Saturday, January 30, 2016

Scouting bedding areas

It was neither inconceivable nor likely that we would find any shed antlers, but we took a walk to scout out some areas where deer have bed down in the past and see if I might get a little lucky and find a dropped antler.

No antlers were found and bedding areas where more sparse less used than previous winters.  There has been some logging nearby, that might have disrupted the flow of deer.  Still, I think we'll check out a couple other spots in the days to come.

Another kind of hunting
Logging at the far side of our permission.

Stoic never ventured far.  About half-way through the walk Musket started to tire.

Sparta got caught in a bit of barbed wire.  She was jumping, twisting and puling when I first saw her but a strong "stay" settled her down until I arrived.

A lot of animals have started to eat sumac seeds.

Early Morning Rabbit Hunt

Sparta for the flush.
Musket for the catch and retrieval.

Musket may be a grumpy old man ill fit for a house with children, cat and other dogs but I will miss him when he goes.  To be honest, if it hadn't been a perfect flush into the open, I don't think he would have caught it.  Despite watching it run, I half expected the rabbit to be unfit for consumption when he brought it back.

Other than the normal number of fleas, however, the rabbit seemed fine.  I'll make a stew for either lunch or supper tomorrow.

He caught the rabbit within 20 yards of the flush and returned it on my first command, despite the fact that we haven't practiced much recently.

This is my favorite way of hunting so a bred-for-the-work lurcher dog may be in my future.

One leg was lost due to two terriers who hampered Musket's return with the rabbit.

"Win like it happens every day."

Sunrise on the farm.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Last Stand in Open Country

Willie Nelson has a real knack for matching the right song to the right duet.

Iowa Picks

Some people play fantasy football.  Others obsess over their NCAA basketball brackets.

I am into horse racing, electoral horse racing to be specific and this is my prediction for the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.

Trump's support is drawn from people who are not likely caucus participants.  Those that do show up will, through the caucus process, I suspect, be folded into the Cruz supporters during the course of the meeting.  I have Rubio in second but, frankly, Bush and Rubio could switch places in my standings.  I only chose Rubio on the hunch that Iowa, too, is tired of the Bush family.  I doubt Rubio  makes it out of South Carolina but, hey, one race at a time.

Rand Paul's supporters will not easily fold into any other group so he hits above his weight in Iowa, I suspect he'll do well again in New Hampshire before fading the night of Super Tuesday.

Team Donk is less complicated.  I have Clinton over Sanders: pragmatism over idealism.  Now if Hillary is indicted this weekend, well, that could change.  O'Malley is praying for a change.

Edit: Apparently when I was writing out my picks last night, I forgot how to spell "O'Malley" and "Caucus."

All of This has Happened Before

Globalization, empire, reaching the edges of human knowledge, and then stepping over into the undiscovered country.  All of this has happened before and it was forgotten.  All of this will happen again and shall be forgotten.

Take for instance the advances of the Babylonians.  While the majority of my ancestors were hunting with sharp rocks and strange occurrences in the night sky must have been a cause for terror, the Babylonians were refining their geometry.

Newly translated ancient tablets show that ancient Babylonian astronomers used unexpectedly advanced geometry to understand the planets. 
The find, described on Thursday in the journal Science, reveals thatBabylonians tracked Jupiter by calculating the areas of trapezoids they used to symbolize  the planet’s motion across the sky. This geometrical trick rewrites the history books: The technique was thought to have originated in England more than a millennium later. 
The study also fills in crucial gaps, says Niek Veldhuis of the University of California, Berkeley, who wasn’t involved with the study, since it “finally connects Babylonian mathematical astronomy with geometrical mathematics”—a missing link that has eluded scholars for more than a century.
Researchers have long known that the Babylonians, who lived in what is now Iraq, had considerable mathematical skill: They successfully approximated the square root of 2 and understood the Pythagorean theorem nearly 4,000 years ago—more than a millennium before Pythagoras was born. 
They were also talented astronomers, maintaining nightly catalogs detailed enough to record the passage of Halley’s comet. Babylonians regularly used arithmetic to boost their astronomical predictions. 
But no one had ever found a Babylonian astronomical calculation that leveraged their impressive knowledge of pure geometry, until Mathieu Ossendrijver of Germany’s Humboldt University of Berlin spent 13 years deciphering what he described as a “small bunch of four weird trapezoid computations” between 2,000 and 2,400 years old.
Do your work.  Step into that undiscovered country.  That is your calling as a Sapien.  It is what we do.  But let us not forget that it will all burn, rot, and erode.  The vast majority of it will be forgotten, wiping the slate clean but another hairless ape will be discovered again.

We're clever little apes, either a little too clever or a little too unwise, depending upon your perspective.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hope for Advancement

There are some things we must learn to accept.

One of *Those* Volkswagens

I own "one of those" Volkswagens.

I do think the EPA standards went a bit overboard.  My earlier VW diesel got about 10 mpg better mileage and a few friends of mine who've had some of their emissions controls removed have seen a 20% improvement over my unaltered diesel.  If global warming is the threat I am told it is, perhaps localities where smog is not an issue should be able to opt efficient diesel instead of "clean diesel."

That is no excuse for the foolishness of VW trying, and succeeding for quite some time, to dupe the monitoring system.  It'd have been better if they'd just withdrawn from the market and let the TDI lovers of the nation drive up the resell value of the pre-2009 TDI market.  I sure wish I'd purchased a pre-2009 TDI.

I'm not that concerned about nitrogen oxides but I do care that I can not sell my car, at least not at a price I find satisfactory.  I do care that I am trying to decide how much money to pour into it for regular maintenance but unable to weigh the odds of a buyback.  Who wants to drop $2000 in regular maintenance if you might not be driving it in three months?

I'm getting a irritated.  Is VW making a good faith effort to resolve the issue?  It is starting to feel like they are not.  At the very least I feel like they are trying to postpone announcing a way to resolve the American market until after they have reached deals in the rest of the world.

If they start by buying back the half a million American cars, they run the risk of India or South Korea asking for the same.  I'm not an engineer but it is hard to see how making the necessary alterations, meeting all the safety testing requirements after cutting holes and adding hardware, in vehicles now over 200,000 miles is cheaper than just buying them back at a 20% premium of the pre-scandal price.

If they can't resolve the question soon, sorry Freudin, but the animosity of current owners is only going to become more and more ingrained and boisterous.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Go Dog Go!

I was rabbit hunting once with my grandfather, a cousin or two, and an uncle.  Call it 1988.

Amidst our beagles came the sound of a dog no one recognized.  A few minutes later a geriatric, obese, Basset Hound could be seen moving through the woods, lagging way behind the pack of hounds.

When the genetic code "explodes" there is no holding it back.  Tell that to "Ludivine" who just knew there were was a whole lot of running in a general direction, joined in, and won a medal for seventh place.

An Alabama dog who found her way into the middle of a half-marathon ended up finishing the race in seventh place and earning herself a medal.
Ludivine, a two-and-a-half-year-old bloodhound, was the star of this year’s Elkmont Half Marathon on Jan. 16, in Elkmont, Alabama, after she found herself at the race’s starting line, unbeknownst to her owner.


There is no groundhog season in Wisconsin.  If I want an opportunity to hunt in the year to come, I need to reach out to my neighbors.
The best way to get a positive response is with a person to person interaction, unless I just show up on the door unannounced.  I hope to get achieve a higher success rate than the Jehovah's Witness.  The letter serves as an introduction and a request for that person to person meeting.  

I am a fairly strong introvert.  If I do not get a response, my first choice would be to crawl under a rock or maybe drive to Minnesota and hunt on public land.  My intent, however, is to force myself to follow up, at the very least, with a phone call.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Couch Mix

For Jesus


The she-pup has been asking to take a walk with me ever since the temps dropped below zero.  Today her schedule and the weather cooperated.

"Dad, if I'd known you were going to take my picture, I wouldn't have worn my chore coat!"

It's dead but let's make sure it can't be made "deader."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Just Good Medicine

Sparta and a new friend.
Our regular therapy dog gig is on an adolescent "crisis and stabilization" unit at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.  Kids come in who need some behavioral health intervention but do not require a locked psychiatric unit.

Kids come in suffering from depression, anxiety, family conflict, or any other number of personal or social crises.  The purpose of the unit is to make sure everyone is healthy enough to go home while making sure the family has a plan and the resources to start to address the underlying problems on an on-going basis.

Interjecting some joy into the day, well, that is just good medicine.

The staff also experience their own kind of traumas.  Most of them have spent years listening to stories and reports that most of us try to avoid hearing, or try to pretend to not happen every day.

When the local news reports a suicide or a mentally ill person attacks some innocent, there is a fair chance the staff person played a game of Uno or Mario Kart with the person at some time in their career.  Maybe they knew them twenty-years ago, maybe it was last month. Regardless, there is still the pain of loss and a temptation to futility.

When they're successful, you rarely hear a fifteen year update about how well things went afterward.

Five times a week, however, they put down the paper, listen to reports of abuse, bullying, loneliness, mental illness and go out and spend time trying to help kids, adults, and families "make today suck a little less and learn the skills to do the same tomorrow."

So therapy dog visits are for the patients but not just for the patients.  Sometimes interjecting a little joy in the day is the difference in "making it suck a little less" for the staff as well.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Sunday 8 miler

Efficiency is over-rated

A yarn-bomber was here

Dude, Your Rottie showed every sign of being a sweetheart and was under your control at all times.  Still, St. Paul is not asking too much of you to keep her on a leash.  Some people are afraid of dogs and it doesn't matter if their fear is rational or not, they have as much right to the public space and we do.

I've not seen this kind of trap before but I would assume it was for Emerald Ash Borer.

Looking up river from Ford Parkway

Looking up river from Marshall Ave


Friday, January 22, 2016

I started out with nothin'

and I still got most of it left.

Taking Advantage of a Warm Day

Today is normally a therapy dog visit day but we all had cabin fever, I was emotionally spent, and wisdom being the better part of valour, we took a five mile walk and called it a day.
Detour on the daily commute.
Rich kid privlidge: the local park provides you with poop bags.  These are not found in neighborhood parks where normal people live.

A "safe place" for the local homeless. 


Decorated trees.

Military surplus snowshoes on the car.


From the Stone Arch Bridge: a lock soon to be decommissioned.

Can we go again?

Modern Working Dog

Talk about earning your kibble.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Superdog Blog

Katrina blogs about dogs and dog training over at  She lives in a multi-dog household, works with a FEMA certified live find search and rescue dogs Kinsey and Nikko, and it seems like she might do as much hiking and walking with her dogs as I do with mine.

I've added her blog to my daily reading list so, yeah, you should at check it out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Rendering Bear Lard

Very few bear hunters make use of the fat harvested from their hunt so if there is a bear season where you live, there is probably free fat to be had.  I've yet to hunt bear but thanks to some friends who do, I seem to be able to come up with some every year.

Bear lard is just as good as any other lard for frying.  Bear lard makes for the best pie crusts.  Bear lard, often blended with beeswax, is also used by some for waterproofing leather boots.  I've read it can be used in your hair.

If I had to guess why bear lard is preferred for some of these uses, I would draw attention to its low melting point.  At room temperature, bear lard will be a thick liquid.  Kept in the refrigerator it will remain soft.  It only hardens up in the freezer.  That low melting point makes the lard a lot easier to mix through the whole batch of dough when making crust and ease of rubbing into boots or your locks.

Rendering bear fat is a lot like rendering any other kind of fat with the exception of the previously mentioned high melting temperature.  When rendering sheep lard, for example, it is a pretty simple task to get the lard to set up in the cool garage.  With bear fat, however, much cooler temperatures are required.  The lard only becomes firm enough to handle just as the water itself is beginning to freeze.

Once the lard is solid enough to handle, cut it up into smaller pieces and place them in wide mouth jars which are sitting in a large crock pot in warm water.  This allows the lard to melt just enough to make sure each jar is filled.

Bear lard does seem to go bad in the fridge quicker than other lards.  Consequently, I always store it in the freezer.  I'm told lard can be canned but with bear lard anyway, I feel better with it in the freezer.

Half the fat from one bear.  Pardon the mess on the stove.

As the fat thaws in the stock pot, cut it up into small pieces, keeping the water at a slow boil for two hours after all the fat has thawed.  Those solids (cracklings) can be used for making cornbread, used in dog food, or thrown to the chickens on a cold winter's day.
Fish out the fat solids, rinse them in hot tap water and return the rinse water to the vat.  This lard sat in a 25 degree garage for 24 hours and is still soft to the touch.  At 48 hours it was very solid to the touch and ready to process.
Cut the lard into chunks that will fit into your jar.
Scrape any gunk off the bottom.

Put chunks into jars and then set them in warm water to melt.  The quarts for the eating.  One jelly jar for boots.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Leerburg Tracking

What does tracking wounded game have in common with police or Search and Rescue work?

Getting the job done is more important than how you look when you're doing it.

There is a lot to respect in Schutzhund, but my reluctance to adhere too closely to their training methods arises from the fact that strict adherence to form (smelling each and every footprint) is substituted for effectiveness.  I'm glad that tracking clubs help people get out of the house and do something with their dogs, but as long as they tow the AKC line, my non-AKC unspayed bitch is not allowed to compete.

Tracking a wounded deer is easier while the sun is still up, so speed of progress plays a roll.  A police officer tracking a bad guy, time is even more important.  Both parties are more interested in finding what we are tracking than how we look in the process.

No one cares who the sire was when you're hunting down a rapist.  No one cares how much time the nose spends up or down when you're tracking a wounded buck of a lifetime.

Enter Leerburg's Introductory tracking video.  It's not cheap, even hunting for a used copy I still spent $40, but it was worth the expense.  I watched it once this weekend and need to give it a second go through when I can take notes while watching.  I will probably watch it once a year on an on-going basis as I try to figure out how to train in the off season.

The video addresses a couple of issues we ran into in our first year of tracking wounded deer and gives a few ideas how I can start to train for them in the off season.  First and foremost, starting a track when no one can tell you where the track begins.

I'll look into the other videos and training they offer.  I've always found the quality top notch, it is just that the price is as well.  It is a great product but if you're starting out, training in a small group with an experienced tracker, even if they're not a wounded game tracker, might be a better use of funds.

Disclaimer: While I don't know the folks at Leerburg, they are located less than twenty miles from my home so that makes them a little bit of my hometown team.

From the website:

There are 2 types of tracking, "foot step tracking" and "tracking thru drive." Foot step tracking is taught with food and a ball. It is designed for sport dogs. Tracking thru drive is designed for service dogs. Here the dog is taught to follow the track at a dead run and there is always a man at the end of every track. Tracking thru drive is the only way to train a police service dog. 
If you are a K-9 officer who trains his service dog with food & a ball you already know that you only catch 3% or 4% of the people you track. The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) catch 45% to 50% of all the people they track (this includes suburban and urban tracking). If a suspect runs in the country, they catch 95% of them.
This 2 hour video was filmed in Alberta, Canada at the police dog training center for the RCMP. The RCMP instructors are the best tracking dog instructors in the world. They have been training police tracking dogs since 1935. I filmed three videos with them. This is the first video. This video will show how the RCMP can train a dog (in 60 training tracks) to follow a 1 hour old, 5 KM unknown track that contains back tracks, road crossings, fence crossings and articles. 
The RCMP has 3 Levels of tracking. This video covers Level One or tracking in a rural environment. Level two and three (Video 208) deals with suburban and urban tracking.
I have had literally hundreds of K-9 officers call or write and say, "This is the only way to train a police dog to track." They wish they had seen this video when starting to train their dogs. Many officers have said, "This training method put the fire back into my police dog. Now he enjoys tracking and we are catching people that used to get away."
The RCMP now uses my three videos in their police dog training center in Alberta. They also send them out to their handlers in the field. 
The other two training videos done with the RCMP are: