Archive for the ‘Hunting’ Category

Up close and intimate with grizzly sow and cub

June 24, 2010

Another story that demonstrates that you don’t want to mess with a mama and her offspring. This time it was a grizzly in the Prince George area and not a doe whomping a dog in Cranbrook.

Leon Lorenz had filmed her before, her smooth black and white grizzly fur a notable gem in his wildlife repertoire.

But he’d never been as close to the full-grown bear as he was last Monday around 7 p.m. when the light in British Columbia’s Robson Valley was perfect and the terrain so smooth he could walk silently between the trees.

“I remember telling myself I would be surprised if I wouldn’t see a grizzly,” he said from his home office in Dunster, B.C.

There she stood, about 25 yards away from him, her back turned as she grazed on some food. Her two-year-old cub lingered nearby.

In a flash, that second of serenity became a moment of terror when the grizzly bear turned and bounded straight toward him, the veteran wildlife filmmaker narrowly escaping death at the hands of one of his most beautiful subjects.

There has been a bit of criticism of Lorenz, that he had been reckless in getting too close to the bear, but he isn’t the first photographer to get up close and personal with wildlife in order to get that perfect picture and he certainly won’t be the last.

But they do risk their lives in doing so and they put the bears’ lives in danger as well.

Two cases that I recall reading about many years ago had to do with a photographer filming bears feeding on salmon in Alaska and a man in Montana who spotted a grizzly sow with two cubs and went after them to get pictures on his 35mm camera. Both of these cases turned out tragically.

The photographer in Alaska left a detailed record on his movie camera which showed an obviously disturbed grizzly that showed all kinds of evidence that he was not happy with the fellow’s presence, until the point that he turned and made one deliberate, fatal charge.

In the Montana incident, as I recall, the man and his wife were out in the mountains and were heading back to the truck near the end of the day, when he spotted the sow with her two cubs. He told his wife to go ahead and he went back to see if he could get some pictures and never returned. The developed film from his camera showed shots of the sow and cubs progressively coming closer to him. Obviously they didn’t stop coming.

Then of course there was the well publicized case of Timothy Treadwell in Alaska (although not photography related) who believed that he could live safely alongside of the bears in the area and did so for some time until he crossed paths with a grizzly in a poor frame of mind ending up with Treadwell’s death as well as that of his girl friend.

All of which only goes to show that you don’t mess around with grizzly bears and that goes in spades for mother bears with cubs. Hell you don’t even mess with black bears, as every once in while you get to meet one that doesn’t live up to the species’ “shy” reputation. In the scheme of things it may not happen often, but when it does you want to be prepared for the worst.

Actually, the first thought that went through my mind on this story wasn’t “wow,  the guy got charged by a grizzly!”  My first reaction was, “Wow, does this guy have a handgun carry permit?”

Now those babies aren’t easy to come by, although people working at some jobs can apply for and get a permit to carry a handgun in the backcountry. I hope this fellow had one because with all of the subsequent publicity, if he didn’t he is probably in serious crap.

The fact is, wilderness carry permits for handguns should be available to most people accessing the backcountry, not just commercial operators. And to take it a step further, you should have the legal opportunity to hunt with a handgun, none of which will ever happen unless we can get a groundswell of political activism from gun owners. And good luck with that.

Regardless, I hope the photographer had a wilderness carry permit and is able to continue to carry it as a survival tool as he goes about his business.


Coyote Bounties: It’s All political

April 23, 2010

In a recent post, I referenced a story out of Nova Scotia where the Natural Resources Minister talked of bringing in a bounty on coyotes (later revised to “considering a bounty” when he took some heat on the plan).

In the process, I discovered that Saskatchewan had actually put in place a similar bounty on coyotes this past winter.

The Saskatchewan scheme provides a $20 bounty for each verified coyote killed in the province, exactly the same as the proposal from Nova Scotia.

However, the Saskatchewan program differs in that any resident of the province can participate (with a limit of $50,000 for any single individual – which is one hell of a lot of coyotes). The program is (was) also time limited, announced on November 10th, 2009 and ending on March 31st 2010.

The reason for the bounty being put in place was to reduce predation on farm land in the province. Again, as in Nova Scotia, the rationale was for political reasons and the bounty program was used to show that the government was attuned to the needs of its constituents. In this case the very strong agricultural lobby in the province.

The bounty was actually only a part of the complete package to accommodate the farming industry. There was also a fencing assistance provision (up to $10,000) and assistance in acquiring a guard dog (up to $100). The government was also training  Conservation Officers in the use of the 1080 poison. (It surprises me that in this day and age that the Ministry of Environment would be tasked with using a poison such as 1080, which is not target specific).

As of February 2010 there had been 18,000 coyotes killed under the program. It was also noted that there had been 18,000 coyotes killed for fur the previous year with average kill of 21,000 in most years. Which would appear that the government has so far subsidized the normal winter kill with a $20 subsidy, which comes to $360,000 for coyotes that apparently would have been killed anyway. It will be interesting to find out what the total kill was when the program ended on March 31st and what the cost to the taxpayers was.

Regardless, I would suggest that this is simply another political and ill-conceived program that once again leaves the perception that something is being done to solve a perceived problem while not really accomplishing a lot. The one good thing about the program is that it was set up for a specified and limited time frame.

The problem with this kind of program is that it applies a scatter-gun approach to the problem.The coyotes being killed will not necessarily be taken from the areas where there is a predation problem, so although you may kill a bunch of coyotes you won’t necessarily be targeting those that are causing the problems.

If there is a serious predation problem on agricultural lands it would be far more effective to target coyotes in those specific areas. But to do that wouldn’t require a bounty system and wouldn’t enable the politicians to issue press releases and announce their intent to solve the problem by throwing money at it. It would also require some manpower and actual planning and execution.

Another question that comes to mind is, if farmers and ranchers are having some problems with coyotes on their land, why aren’t they solving the problem on their own. Why are taxpayer’s dollars needed to encourage them to go out and reduce the coyote population in their area? And don’t for a moment think that many of those very same individuals who have complained to the government about predation problems weren’t out there this winter shooting coyotes and collecting their $20 per animal from the bounty program.

I was under the (apparently mistaken) impression that the old bounty systems had been proven to be inefficient, ineffective and ultimately corrupt many years ago. But obviously when political considerations come into play the experiences of years past mean nothing.

To go back to Nova Scotia for a moment, some of the discussion has gone past bounties to extermination.

Nova Scotia should completely “exterminate” its coyote population, some Colchester County councillors believe.
“Bounties don’t work,” Coun. Mike Cooper said, during this week’s council session. “You might as well get rid of them. They’re hunting in packs now.”

I’m sure that was a well thought out rationale, non-political opinion.

Hunters, Anglers and Gun Owners: Fighting for your rights

August 13, 2009

I had lunch with a friend a few days ago, and we were talking about the issues of gun control and the attacks on hunting by various groups and individuals.

He pointed out that the anti-groups ask for the moon and settle for something less, while we try to defend the status quo. By doing so, we lose our rights, bit by bit and piece by piece.

He argued that we need a different mindset. We have to go to the table with the intent of of getting more and not just maintaining what we tentatively have. We need to push the limits of the government bureaucrats and the politicians.

We may not convince them to give us what we are asking for, but we may – not right now, but somewhere down the road – realize other concessions.

The key is that we don’t go in once, get rejected and then quit. The object is to keep coming back to the table to make our case.

Thus we should be pushing for the right to hunt with a handgun.

We should be demanding that transport permits for restricted and prohibited firearms be part and parcel of the firearms licence.

We should be demanding the right to carry a handgun in the backcountry for protection, rather than being forced to pack the weight of a long-gun.

How about making them take some of those firearms off their arbitrary prohibited list rather than worrying about which guns they will next add to the list.

We should make them justify the existence of the pointless and stupid laws that are currently on the books.

Why is a shotgun with a 16 inch barrel from the factory legal, while a shotgun whose barrel has been cut back to 16 inches is illegal?

Why are noise suppressors illegal? Wouldn’t their use make eminent sense in noise sensitive areas?

We need to demand more hunting and angling opportunity for resident hunters and anglers. There is room for more opportunity – we are just not being allowed to access it.

The problem is that too many of our organizations don’t want to take the hard line. Hell, they don’t want to take the semi-hard line.

But the animal rights, the anti-gun and the anti-hunting groups have no qualms about pushing their agendas and they haven’t been disenfranchised. In fact, they have identified people within governments who, if not favourable to their views, are not willing to stand up against them.

It seems that no-one else seems to have any problem pushing their agendas. Just us.

But the blame for our weak bargaining position doesn’t lie solely with our organizations. Every gun owner, hunter and angler needs to become educated about the issues and get personally involved at some level, whether it be letting their organization know what they expect from them, communicating their concerns to politicians and government staff or informing the public of the issues. Some people are there now, but not enough.

To be overly dramatic: We either fight or die.

Selling out Peter for Paul’s Benefit

August 3, 2009

When I started to read this article by Paul Craig Robert, I was intrigued by the title: Gun Control: What’s the Agenda?

Now I thought I always knew the gun-banners’ agenda. It was, and is, to get rid of guns owned by civilians. I also thought that I knew some of their motivations.

We’ve heard the arguments hundred of times. Banning guns (so the theory goes) would materially reduce crime, suicides, fatal accidents, violence in the home and make the public domain for all intents and purposes a a safer place and although it might not create a utopia but it would be a step in that direction.

Then there are the animal rights activists who would see the banning of firearms as a way to ending hunting activities. (They could ban bows later – or sooner for that matter).

I hoped that the author might have some new insights on the subject.

As a lead-in, the author pointed out the facts behind New York’s oppressive Sullivan’s Law.

New York state senator Timothy Sullivan, a corrupt Tammany Hall politician, represented New York’s Red Hook district. Commercial travelers passing through the district would be relieved of their valuables by armed robbers. In order to protect themselves and their property, travelers armed themselves. This raised the risk of, and reduced the profit from, robbery. Sullivan’s outlaw constituents demanded that Sullivan introduce a law that would prohibit concealed carry of pistols, blackjacks, and daggers, thus reducing the risk to robbers from armed victims.

The criminals, of course, were already breaking the law and had no intention of being deterred by the Sullivan Act from their business activity of armed robbery. Thus, the effect of the Sullivan Act was precisely what the criminals intended. It made their life of crime easier.

He then dealt with the fallacy of the epidemic of gun deaths among children in the U.S. and notes that the White House Offices of National Drug Control Policy says that drugs is one of the leading factors in homicides.

According to the National Drug Control Policy, trafficking in illicit drugs is associated with the commission of violent crimes for the following reasons: “competition for drug markets and customers, disputes and rip-offs among individuals involved in the illegal drug market, [and] the tendency toward violence of individuals who participate in drug trafficking.” Another dimension of drug-related crime is “committing an offense to obtain money (or goods to sell to get money) to support drug use.”

Roberts then writes:

Those who want to outlaw guns have not explained why it would be any more effective than outlawing drugs, alcohol, robbery, rape, and murder. All the crimes for which guns are used are already illegal, and they keep on occurring, just as they did before guns existed.

So what is the real agenda? Why do gun control advocates want to override the Second Amendment. Why do they not acknowledge that if the Second Amendment can be over-ridden, so can every other protection of civil liberty?

There are careful studies that conclude that armed citizens prevent one to two million crimes every year. Other studies show that in-home robberies, rapes, and assaults occur more frequently in jurisdictions that suffer from gun control ordinances. Other studies show that most states with right-to-carry laws have experienced a drop in crimes against persons.

Why do gun control advocates want to increase the crime rate in the US?

Why is the gun control agenda a propagandistic one draped in lies?

At which point he inexplicably goes sideways.

He blames the NRA for fueling the irrational fear of guns through trade advertisements in their members’ only magazine.

The NRA is the largest and best known organization among the defenders of the Second Amendment. Yet, a case might be made that manufacturers’ gun advertisements in the NRA’s magazines stoke the hysteria of gun control advocates.

Full page ads offering civilian versions of weapons used by “America’s elite warriors” in US Special Operations Command, SWAT, and by covert agents “who work in a dark world most of us can’t even understand,” are likely to scare the pants off people who are afraid of guns.

And although he begrudgingly acknowledges that there is some validity to hunting, he apparently believes that gun owners would be better served if  it kind of went away.

The same goes for hunters. Recent news reports of “hunters” slaughtering wolves from airplanes in Alaska and of a hunter, indeed, a poacher, who shot a protected rare wolf in the US Southwest and left the dead animal in the road, enrage people who have empathy with animals and wildlife. Many Americans have had such bad experiences with their fellow citizens that they regard their dogs and cats, and wildlife, as more intelligent and noble life forms than humans. Wild animals can be dangerous, but they are not evil.

Americans with empathy for animals are horrified by the television program that depicts hunters killing beautiful animals and the joy hunters experience in “harvesting” their prey. Many believe that a person who enjoys killing a deer because he has a marvelous rack of antlers might enjoy killing a person.

He is apparently ignorant of the fact that the aerial shooting of wolves in Alaska is a State initiative to control the predator population and is not done by “hunters”, and he identifies the person who illegally shot a wolf in the southwest as a poacher whom he apparently associates with legitimate hunters. In fact his whole diatribe on hunters and hunting would indicate that Roberts sits quite comfortably in the anti-hunting camp.

So after wondering what the anti-gun agenda is, we find out that apparently they don’t really have an agenda, it’s just that the NRA (and I presume other magazines) publish advertising for modern guns that “are ugly as sin”, and whose “appearance is threatening, unlike the beautiful lines of a Winchester lever action or single shot rifle, or a Colt single action revolver, or the WW II 45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, guns that do not have menacing appearances” which makes people fear guns and makes them want to ban them. And if that isn’t enough those damned hunters are out there killing wolves and other beautiful animals which makes people think that they “might enjoy killing a person”. All enough reason to ban firearms – apparently.

The author then goes on to wax poetic about the joys of target shooting which one could apparently do without fear of the gun banners if it wasn’t for the NRA’s advertising practices and – again – those damned hunters.

It appalls me that there are still those out there, who profess to be “one of us” who have such a simplistic and  (dare I say) stupid view of the issues.

One would hope that by now we would have gone beyond the divisions where long gun owners were willing to sell out handgun owners in the hope that doing so would take the focus off their firearms. Or in Britain the owners of double barreled shotguns being willing to sacrifice  those who owned pumps and semi-autos.

But apparently the message that the anti-gunners are quite willing to pick us off one by one still hasn’t reached everyone.

Whether it is the anti-gun or the anti-hunting crowd, they know that they cannot get everything they want in one big bucket and are quite happy take their little victories. Unfortunately some of which we give them in the vain hope that they will be satisfied enough to go away and leave us alone. Which of course has never been in their game plan.

There is little question that Canada;s Firearms Act was written in such a manner as to make things more bureaucratically difficult for gun owners in the hope that many would get rid of their guns and drop out of the system. Which many did. The Act relegated some firearms (most notably handguns with barrels 4″ or less in length) to ‘prohibited’ status and while current owners were grandfathered it ensured that no-one else would ever be able to legally acquire them. In that way they would eventually be purged from the system.

Toronto Mayor David Miller has been on a crusade to ban handguns, obviously in a misguided attempt to demonstrate to his electorate that he is “doing something to fight crime”. All gun owners should the strongly and publicly opposing this.

Some years ago there was an attack against bear hunting in B.C. The ban proponents wanted to totally stop the hunting of black bear – not exactly a threatened species in this province. Of course they weren’t able to win that fight, but in the process the Ministry of Environment decided that they would put in a new regulation that would force all bear hunters to salvage the meat of any bears they shot. This was just for black bear. Although some bear hunters already kept the meat (actually good eating), most hunted for the hide. The Ministry thought that bringing the meat in would legitimize the hunt and remove the objections of the environmentalists.

Did it work? Well it removed a bunch of hunters from the system and the environmentalists are currently back again trying to stop bear hunting. And the new solution being floated around to blunt the attack? Put in a regulation to make it a requirement for hunters to salvage grizzly bear meat. Which shows that we have learned little from our past mistakes.

The antis are focused and patient. We, as gun owners and hunters, are divided and complacent. If that doesn’t change, our future is bleak.

Traveling West From Saskatchewan

June 12, 2009

For the 3rd year in a row my June trip to Saskatchewan has been notable for rain and cool weather. That’s not all bad as I have taken the credit for bringing needed moisture into the prairies. However it did play havoc with plans to golf and do some gopher shooting, although I did get my usual game in at the Weyburn Golf Club. With the weather being so cool and wet, I didn’t even bother stopping in the Hazenmore area  to see if the gopher population was still intact after the poisoning program last year.

Now that I am on my way back west the weather is clearing and the forecast is for more heat units. As they say, timing is everything in life and obviously my timing sucks.

Hunting the elusive black bear

June 2, 2009

Was out hunting black bear this weekend and did a detailed and comprehensive inventory, which has led me to the determination that black bears are extinct in British Columbia. Truly a tragic situation as who would have thought that the ubiquitous black bear would go the way of the Dodo bird. We did find some fossil bear poop, probably from the Pleistocene which we should have collected for scientific study but had a beverage instead.

However, on the upside we did see 7 mule deer does which would be of some concern except for the fact that I had 2 mule deer bucks come through my yard the other day, so if we can find some way to connect them up we may still save that species.

We didn’t see a lot of other species which means they could be extinct as well. Damned global warming.

Bereft of bears To further verify my analysis of the black bear population note the lack of bears on the      road.

Spring bear hunt 2009 006

My open-air transportation: Honda 90 Trail (circa 1972).

Also saw 1/2 curl California bighorn ram feeding along the side of the road totally oblivious to the vehicle traffic.

Spring bear hunt 2009


August 24, 2008

I was reading Dave Petzal’s blog where he was talking about seeing the 1st elk trophy he had taken 35 years earlier and how it was much less impressive than what he had remembered.

Now memory is a strange thing in itself; selective at times and self-generating at others, but Petzal’s blog took me past ‘memory’ and on to what we call ‘groundshrink’ in hunting.

It took Dave P. 35 years to see the groundshrink on his elk. But if you want to see instantaneous groundshrink you need to hunt bears.

I hunted black bears religiously for a good number of years, put a few on the ground, saw other hunters do the same, and heard a lot of stories in the process about big bears becoming small bears after the action was over.

There are a number of rules about how to judge a trophy bear; head size, legs, general appearance and how they move, but even experienced bear guides will tell you that you can get fooled. Duncan Gilchrist, in his book All About Bears, wrote : “Judging bear size is almost a gut feeling”.

Over the length of my personal bear hunting career I shot a half dozen or better blacks, the largest of which squared out at just around 6 feet. At that point I decided that I wasn’t going to take another bear unless I judged it to close in on the 7-foot mark. A BIG bear.

For several years I hunted with that as my goal. Where I hunted we were able to glass some 20 plus bears every day we were in the field. Some small, some average and a few (a very few) that were what we judged to be “better than the average bear”.

We never did see what we thought could be certified as a bona fide 7-footer, although one (just one) was estimated to be a 6 1/2-foot bear. That was by a very experienced bear guide who came along with us for a couple of days.

But in truth, the only way to validate your judgment (other than by taking a measuring tape and wrestling the bruin to the ground – not a recommended procedure ) is to pull the trigger and walk up to view your trophy.

A good friend, who has shot many blacks over his hunting lifetime told me that he was tired of shooting small bears and promised himself that the next one he pulled the trigger on would be of respectable size. Shortly thereafter he came upon an unsuspecting bruin ambling across the mountainside. He said he studied it carefully, coming to the conclusion that this was a “good” bear. But when the bear was on the ground it turned out to be not just small, but tiny. However it did have the finest hide I’ve ever seen.

This fellow also shot blond-phase bears two years running. Something that gave me an acute case of “bear envy”.

The biggest bear I’ve ever seen was back many years when I was living on the Alaska Highway – and here memory takes over.

I was driving back to Dawson Creek from a job in Fort Nelson and came upon a black bear walking down the center of the highway. Whether he was old and deaf or simply absorbed in contemplating the meaning of life, he was oblivious to me as I came to a stop right behind him. I reached for my rifle, which in those days was always on the seat beside me, and then thought about the amount of work involved if I killed this bear.

It was late in the afternoon and I had a ways to go before I arrived home. I had never killed a black bear at that point (although I had hunted them over bait in Saskatchewan) and had no intense desire to do so. Instead, I blew the car’s horn which startled the hell out of old Smoky, who came alive and bolted off the road and down a cut line.

Now in my mind’s eye he may have grown over the years, but I can still see his big butt waddling down the road in front of me. In retrospect, I wish I had put a tape on him and checked out the groundshrink.

Gorillas coming out of the mist

August 9, 2008

An interesting story detailing new gorilla population figures, at least for the Republic of Congo.

More than 125,000 western lowland gorillas have been discovered deep in the forests of the Republic of Congo, at least doubling their estimated population. Primatologists say the newly discovered gorilla population now puts their estimated numbers at between 175,000 and 225,000. Tendai Maphosa has more from VOA’s London News Center.

Before a census conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society, scientists believed fewer than 100,000 of the gorillas still existed. The news was greeted with excitement at the International Primatological Society Congress under way in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The reaction to this news appears to have been very positive with none that I found questioning the science of the count procedures or the politics of the announcement.

I must admit that I was expecting to see some organizations taking that position as the gorilla has been an icon species for fund raising and stories that might mute the public concern about extinction could be seen as a threat to raising cash.

There were certainly cautionary statements to the effect that the western lowland gorilla was only one of several species and that in general, primate populations were of concern in both Africa and Asia.

Jillian Miller, executive director of conservation group The Gorilla Organization commented: “The discovery of such a large population of western lowland gorillas is absolutely fantastic news for the sub-species and for conservationists, but we should be careful not to be too complacent.

“The area where these gorillas have been found is in the path of the Ebola virus, which has wiped out large numbers of Western lowland gorillas during the past 25 years.”

She added: “Numbers are less important than trends, and sadly the trend for all gorilla sub-species, apart from the mountain gorillas, has been a downturn in population figures.”

The reason I expected some kind of “don’t believe the numbers” comment is from my experience with grizzly populations in British Columbia and environmentalist’s continuing attacks on the numbers presented by provincial researchers.

This B.C. reaction may be more closely connected to the campaign to stop grizzly hunting that it is to a healthy population of grizzly bears. But one of your key arguments against hunting – that it is not sustainable – is badly damaged if the population estimates are strong.

Back in the early 1980s the provincial government estimated that there were around 10,000 grizzlies in B.C. But as the anti-hunting crusade began to build there were criticisms leveled that there had been little to no population studies being done to back up those estimates.

The Ministry of Environment began to expend more time, energy and money (when it was available) to update their population estimates and by 2001 the new estimate had increased to 14,000 bears.

But by now the anti-grizzly hunt campaigners were in full battle dress. They disputed the government figures and maintained that the actual populations were more likely in the area of 3,000 to 4,000 bears. This of course based on no studies or calculations, just the need for a lower figure.

Official figures put the number of grizzly bears in B.C. at about 14,000, but de Leeuw says overhunting may have reduced the population to as few as 3,000. Hunters kill an estimated 300 each year, with another 300 killed for public safety purposes and by poachers. Over a 33-year period from 1965 to 1997, he estimates more than 6,000 female bears were slaughtered, far in excess of the number the B.C. government considers sustainable.

“These results are discouraging at best,” de Leeuw writes. “They clearly indicate that rather than controlling the total kill of grizzly bears to what may well be an arbitrarily conservative level, for 33 years the province has allowed the kill to exceed its own standard of sustainable mortality.”

Compounding matters is the dubious nature of the B.C. Ministry of Environment’s grizzly population estimates. From 1972 to 1979 the province estimated a population of 6,660 grizzly bears. But in 1990, the Ministry estimated that the province was home to 13,160 bears, using a “habitat suitability” model that assumes grizzlies occupy all suitable habitat, de Leeuw contends the model is so flawed that virtually all grizzly bears could be exterminated in B.C. by sport hunters, and the government would still allow hunting.

With the advent of DNA sampling B.C. researchers had a new tool in population research and as they gained more experience and gathered more data, the grizzly population estimates kept rising, to the present level of around 17,000 bears.

In the meantime, things had happened on the political scene. In the latter stages of the provincial NDP government’s reign the new Minister of Environment put a moratorium on all grizzly hunting in the province – against the advice of the professionals in his department. That lasted until the provincial Liberals won the next election and reinstated the hunt.

Now, with a provincial election in the offing, the anti-hunt crowd, although never gone, has been generating a new campaign. The story is the same: The official figures are incorrect (although they seem to have deserted – at least publicly – the idea that the population could be as low as 4,000 animals) and therefore all hunting should be arbitrarily ended.

In an interview with the Daily News, Genovali said that only 84 per cent of grizzlies killed in the province were shot by trophy hunters, but he insisted that should bring little comfort to British Columbians.

“There are no firm numbers of how many grizzlies are actually alive in B.C.,” said Genovali.

The suggested number of grizzly bears in B.C. right now is 17,000, which is up by 11,000 on when the first provincially recorded number of grizzly bears was noted in 19 72. However, Genovali disregards that number as nothing more than speculation.

So to come full circle: New population counts showing an increased gorilla population are greeted with great enthusiasm while studies showing a continuing increase in grizzly populations are attacked as government propaganda.

Which leads me to my conclusion that in B.C. it is more an anti-hunting issue than a grizzly bear population issue.

Not bad – all the way from gorillas in Africa to grizzly bears in British Columbia in one blog.

Gopher hunting in SW Saskatchewan

June 14, 2008

Just in the process of making a quick trip back to Saskatchewan to visit family and took to opportunity to do a little gopher shooting in the South-west near Hazenmore.

For the past few years I have been reading about the gopher infestation in the area and have been curious to see how bad it was. Then this year the federal government approved the use of strychnine in Saskatchewan by the local farmers and ranchers to reduce the gopher population so I figured it was now or never.

The poisoning work had already begun and local farmers I talked to said that the numbers were certainly reduced, but there were still a lot of gophers around. What was amazing was the visibility everywhere of their digs. Just driving along Highway 13 you could see the evidence in the fields alongside the road. On the rural roads it was impossible to avoid running over animals. They were spread through pastureland, cultivated land and even burrowed into creek banks like muskrats.

The local farmer whose land I shot on has had shooters come in from all over the country: As far away as Ontario to the East and Northern B.C to the West, and he was happy to see them.

The shooting wasn’t fast and furious, but it was steady. Every time you thought things had come to a halt some more gophers would show up. And it wasn’t ideal weather either. Not overly warm nor was it sunny. There had been a lot of rain in the area in recent days and I had originally thought the day might be a washout – no pun intended.

I probably shot upwards of 70 gophers from about 3:00 PM to 8:30 PM, all using .22 rimfires. In the interest of avoiding psychological trauma to urban gopher aficionados I took no pictures of the mayhem I participated in. Anyway, who wants to look at pictures of dead gophers.

In the end the landowner was happy that I had contributed to the reduction of his gopher herd and I had spent an afternoon reliving the shooting days of my youth. I would have liked to have gone back another day, but rain moved back in to Southern Saskatchewan, which made gopher shooting impossible and the locals so happy that I couldn’t see fit to complain about the weather affecting my personal agenda.

Thomas McIntyre: Outdoor writer par excellence

February 8, 2008

I have just finished reading Thomas McIntyre’s ‘Seasons and Days’. Admittedly, I came to it late as it was published in 2003. My loss, as McIntyre is one of my favourite outdoor writers; Equal parts philosopher and sportsman. Or maybe the two are a natural combination but Mr. McIntyre is just more articulate than the rest of us.

He is definitely not a “Me and Joe” storyteller. He tells you about the country and the people he met along the way and thinks about why he hunts.

I particularly liked this piece taken from the preface of the book.


Hunting is indeed about death. Or, more precisely, killing. Killing is what makes the hunter (animal or human) different from every other walker in the woods. Not that this always explains the kill to the satisfaction of our friends, especially those of the more doctrinaire environmental stripe, or often to our own family. Sometimes not even entirely for ourselves.


The killing that I am talking about is, of course, the legal killing of wild animals in the hunt, not homicide, or the hunting of “armed men”; the killing in hunting is not murder or human conflict incognito – assuming one is relatively free of pathological impulse. Hunters are excruciatingly inarticulate about why they kill or what it is like to do so. Part of it is very much a case of like trying to tell a stranger about rock ‘n roll, but also because, as Ortega y Gasset says, hunting means “accepting reason’s insufficiency.” The desire to hunt, and ultimately kill, comes from a place well before consciousness and words, so that when it arises today it does so almost always outside articulation. Most hunters can’t even say when it began for them, but some still try.

I have a tendency to speed read, but when I am reading McIntyre I deliberately slow my reading down in order to appreciate more fully his craftsmanship..