A Facebook post from a friend of mine who is traveling in Northern Kentucky. Sunday afternoon, settin’ a spell on the front porch of the General Store with Miss Katie, eating caramels and drinking iced tea. The mayor of Rabbit Hash is a pitbull named Brynneth Pawltrow; her vice mayor is a terrier named JackJack; […]
If you were to travel the back roads along the wild border between Calhoun and Gilmer Counties and mention my name to some well-worn local, you would probably get “You mean that guy who kills all the turkeys?”
I am Scottie V. Westfall III. Junior is my father. The elder has passed on.
I have never killed a turkey, though I’ve certainly seen the birds slinking along on gray November days, the sort of days when you hope against all hope that a white-horned stag might come slinking out of the thickets and into rifle range. When the bipedal fantails come trudging out of the gray gloom, I’ve been sorely tempted, but I’ve held my fire.
Not in season. Let them be.
My grandpa killed 8 turkeys in one season. The limit is 2.
He saw them as the Holy Grail of wild game. He made his own calls and spent hours scouting and “chumming” them. “Chumming,” of course, meant the copious dropping the “yellow call” in the March woods, and “yellow call” was cracked corn. Baiting turkeys was illegal as taking more than the yearly bag limit.
He and often argued over conservation issues, but he liked playing the scofflaw, a sort twentieth century version of the old European poacher who loved to flaunt the king’s edicts about the king’s game.
Turkey hunts in spring begin before the sun rises. The birds start moving and then start courting once there is just enough light to see, and the big tom birds drop from their treetop roosts and go about the business of fighting and fanning before the often reluctant hens.
The trick is to hit the woods before the birds come down and begin the process of “talking turkey.” The talk a man gives the tom bird is supposed to be that of a dopey but receptive hen that is looking for a male company but just can’t make her way toward him.
If a tom is “henned up” with plenty of female company, he’s not likely to leave them to look for the yelping idiot on a distant ridge. He’s going to be content to stay with his harem and fan and puff up for them.
The best hunters have strategies for the birds, but the very best– the ones who shoot 8 birds in a season– use the yellow call. They risk the game warden’s fines, but if he really wants the bird, it’s a risk that some will take.
Before there was ever a turkey season, my grandpa set out a bunch of game-farmed Eastern wild turkeys in the back country. The dumb things were too tame to be sporting birds, so he took to harassing and harrying with sticks.
And they soon learned to fear man, and they thrived in the backwoods. When their numbers were high enough, my grandpa opened his own season and shot a tom. He was totally flaunting the North American model of wildlife conservation. He’d set out private birds on private land, and now he was opening his own private season.
I can’t say that I approve of such things. I’m more or less in love with public wildlife model that has served our game species so well. I don’t hate conservation laws, which are mostly based upon the most rigorous science available.
But a few days ago, I saw a few big toms out fanning in a pasture. The greenness of the new April grass painted a pastel promenade ground, and the bird’s iridescent feathers were shining in the April sun.
I saw in them the beauty that had so beguiled my grandfather. They drove him into the scofflaw world of sniping turkeys with a .243. They were what led him the regular haunts in the March woods with buckets of yellow call.
“You gobble. You die,” said the vanity plate on my his Ford pickup.
And for the turkeys he took, it certainly meant death.
But in their gobbling, he truly lived. He was a wild beast of the woods as his ancestors were, hunting hard the wild game without any regard for such artificial abstractions as law and conservation science. It is the way that our kind lived for much of our 200,000 year existence. It is a way that has brought down many species, including the passenger pigeons which used to fill the skies on warm spring days.
The pigeon died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914, more than 19 years before my grandfather was born. They died off as the wild turkey nearly did. We just couldn’t stop killing them.
The turkey was saved, though, and is doing well. And the bag limits and seasons get more liberal every year.
I think of my grandpa when I see these birds on clear April days. I know that he would be out there questing for them, yearning for them, coaxing them, ready to harvest as a wild hunting man should.
And I can only come up short. I’m an ersatz hunter-gatherer, wet around the ears, domesticated by the post-industrial world.
Yet still seeking that essential wildness that lies in gray woods of my people.
When we were in Arizona a couple of weeks ago, we decided to head out to our favorite place to explore and take photos. It’s a piece of unoccupied land in the Sonoran desert not far from Robbie’s parent’s house in Scottsdale, and while it’s admittedly surrounded by the obvious civilization of the city, it feels completed secluded when you’re there. We go there every year to snap pictures (usually for outfit posts but also for fun), and this year Essley wanted to come with us. We’ve been trying to teach her about nature and the environment, and this seemed like a great way for her to learn about a completely different type of ecosystem than what she’s used to where we live, while also having some fun. (We also have a cool Earth Day inspired project stemming from this photoshoot; stay tuned for more on that in a couple of weeks.)
We were planning to go out to dinner that night so I was already sort of dressed up (for me, anyway), and while the photos we took weren’t purposely for an outfit post, it kind of turned out that way. And funny enough, Essley and I were not intentionally dressed alike. I know, I know – that seems impossible, considering how similar the dresses appear in these photos. But it’s true. In person, the pieces are quite different – mine is a fabric-heavy, super flowy, sort-of-bell sleeve woven fabric dress with a lot of embellishment, and Essley’s is a simple jersey knit cotton jumper dress. The patterns are also not that alike in person, but in the photos they’re almost identical. We didn’t realize how much we appeared to be twinning until we looked back through the photos. Essley and I don’t often do the mommy and me dress alike thing, but I think I might kind of like it…
Posing for pictures with Ess is always fun – we love to get silly when we do it and there is a whole lot of laughing (and seriously awkward outtakes). But the best part was seeing how excited she was about the details of the desert – the plants, the land, even the way the sun was setting. I call it “her wonder” and it is genuinely the best thing ever, you guys.
We took some other photos on a different day (without Essley that time) in one of my new favorite casual (as if I wore anything else) outfits that I’ll share soon. And that will probably conclude my outfit posts for the year knowing my track record but hey, it’s a fun change for a non-fashion blog, right?
Here’s the latest from the FDA’s website.
On February 20, 2017, Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food notified the FDA that it planned to recall all “chunk beef” products under the Evanger’s and Against the Grain brands. On February 27, 2017, the FDA became aware that Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food was notifying its distributors and retailers of a new recall for lots of Evanger’s Braised Beef Chunks with Gravy as well as expanding the previous recall for additional lots of Evanger’s canned Hunk of Beef and Against the Grain’s Grain Free Pulled Beef with Gravy.
The 12-ounce cans of dog food being recalled have the following barcodes. The numbers listed below are the second half of the barcode, which can be found on the back of the product label:
Evanger’s Hunk of Beef: 20109
Evanger’s Braised Beef: 20107
Against the Grain Pulled Beef: 80001
The products have expiration dates of December 2019-January 2021.
The FDA’s updated report, as well as original recall notice, can be found here.
We’re celebrating a very special birthday today: it’s Ochi’s first birthday (or at least the day that the shelter guessed was her birth date…which is close enough for us!)…
[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]
The American Kennel Club is pleased to announce the launch of the AKC Trick Dog program. The program will include four levels allowing dogs with any amount of experience the ability to participate. Teaching their dog tricks is enjoyable for owners, mentally stimulating for their dogs and can take place at any time or place […]
I live in a low-income building at 618 S. Wabash. When signing HUD re-certification papers I had to sign a document stating that I was aware that as a HUD rent subsidy client with a disability I had a right to a service animal with a doctor's note. My landlord did not want any animals in the building. There had never been one before in the 11 years or so of it's existence. I had to get a lawyer but next week I will adopt my dog.
BAD RAP Blog
We lump. We split. We recombine. We split again.
Taxonomic disputes. Cladistics. Phylogenetic trees. We quibble. We quarrel.
I particularly love these disputes. They are what happens in this era of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis and the rise of cladistic classification models.
Ever since it was known to modern science, the tufted-eared wildcat of mountains of Qinghai and Sichuan were thought be a unique species, an endemic mountain cat of China.
It was called Felis bieti after the missionary naturalist Felix Biet who was stationed in Tibet. Pronounced the proper French way, Felis bieti sounds a lot like Felix Biet, though he was not the person who named it. Alphonse Milne-Edwards, the scholarly French mammalogist, named the beast.
And all was fine taxonomy-wise.
Then, as the Chinese population grew, they began to put lots and lots of pressure on the mountains. They poisoned the pikas and rodents, and the cat’s numbers have started to drop.
It might be easy to get people interested in preserving the cat.
Even more so, because its classical taxonomy has been called into question. A 2007 genetic study that sought to find the origins of the domestic cat found that the Felis bieti was actually so close to the wildcat that it ought to be regarded as a subspecies. This was a limited mtDNA study, which has its potential problems.
It could be that there is indeed a unique Felis bieti but that it has hybridized so much with wildcats or their domestic kin that they have a wildcat-like mtDNA sequence. So we’re going to need some nuclear DNA studies to confirm whether this is a subspecies or not.
If it turns out to be wildcat subspecies, then it might actually be easier to rally support for conserving it. People love cats so much that it often gets very hard to have discussions about them as invasive species, so when we have a potential close cousin of Fluffy or Morris that might go extinct, it might be easier to get people interested in preserving them.
These cats are found not far from the where the last wild giant pandas roam. The Chinese mountain cat, as it is known in English, isn’t quite as rare as the panda.
Taxonomic quibbles and quarrels do have political consequences. Some of them are good. Some are them are negative.
We use the information the best information we have, but we always manipulate symbols in order to rally support for our causes.
The tufted wildcat of China might be one of those species we might easily manipulate. The Scottish wildcat has been called “the Highland tiger, ” and even though it’s unlikely that any pure Scottish wildcats still exist, it has captured the imagination of the British conservation-minded community.
Perhaps something could be done here as well. People love that which is nearest to their own understanding, and domestic cats losing their closest wild kin is something that would bother many.
This is what has helped wolves in their public relations and led to their ultimate success as a conservation story.
A little wildcat could have a lot of appeal, and maybe it can be saved, bieti or silvestris or whatever it is.
In March, I gave you guys a sneak peek of IKEA’s new STOCKHOLM Collection (which became available for purchase on April 1st!), and it ended up being the highest traffic (and most pinned) post of the entire month. Since you guys seem to like IKEA as much as I do (in case you missed it, we were on their home improvement show last fall, which was the most fun blog project I’ve ever done), I decided to share my favorite new collections of theirs from time to time here on the blog. (And again, these posts are not sponsored. I just love my IKEA!)
This particular collection, my friends, is quite possibly my favorite ever…
My regular readers probably have a pretty good idea of my style by this point – I like simple, neutral decor, but I also love when it’s mixed with vibrant bohemian inspired pieces. And that is why I am completely smitten with IKEA’s new limited edition JASSA Collection, which was designed by Piet Hein Eek and launched a couple of weeks ago. Described as possessing “a sense of free-spirited fun” (I’m in!), it features handmade furniture, bold patterns and textiles mixed in with natural elements, and lots of other bohemian inspired goodness that I can’t wait to get my hands on. As with most of IKEA’s products, the pieces in the JASSA Collection are also reasonably priced.
I think my favorite pieces in the collection are the pendant lamp shade ($ 29.99), the speckled side plates ($ 3.95), the rattan room divider ($ 129), and all of the gorgeous cut fabric pieces ($ 14.95). Between this and the STOCKHOLM Collection, I’m counting down the days until my next IKEA excursion.