February 23, 2020

High Country News Editor Spooked by Cowboy Hats

Heather Graham in "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues," a Nineties movie with a Seventies sensibility.

Brian Calvert, current editor of High Country News, recently had an anxiety attack about cowboy hats.

He probably has not read far enough back in the archive to know this, being relatively new, but this not the first time that HCN has tied itself into knots of political correctness over Western wear.

Back when HCN was published in Lander, Wyo., before Ed and Betsy Marston took it over in the 1980s (as I recall), they published an earnest editorial asking whether  environmental activists in the West could wear snap-button "Western" shirts, for example, lest they unwittingly identify with eee-vul ranchers and other earth-rapers.

The irony there is that "Western wear" as sold on Main Street was formalized by urban tailors after World War Two as costumes for musicians and actors. Even foreigners know this:
HCN founder Tom Bell wearing a
"problematic symbol." I don't mean
the eye patch.
El traje de vaquero era utilizado en esta época por los colonizadores, los hombres de montaña y durante la Guerra de Secesión o Guerra Civil Estadounidense. Igualmente, con los años ha ido popularizándose gracias a su relación con el estilo musical denominado country de la mano de cantantes como Gene Autry o Roy Rogers, muy populares en EE.UU. durante los años 40 y 50. 
In addition, without cowboy hat-wearing, environmentally concerned Wyoming rancher/biologist Tom Bell, who founded High Country News, Briant Calvert would not have his job and editorial pulpit.




Brian Calvert needs to tell these Navajo rodeo contestants
that their hats are "problematic." (VICE magazine).
Did he think about that before writing how the cowboy hat was "a symbol of power and exclusion"? That it is nothing but a prop to show who is American and who is not? He needs to get out more. Maybe he could meet these guys in the photo at right. They clearly are insufficiently "woke."


The broad-brimmed hat is practical in sunny country, as generations of wearers have known. And if it threatens to blow off, you need a "stampede string," as the old-timers called it.

And they are flattering to almost everyone. You don't have to be Heather Graham. I am sure that my grandfather, who sold Stetson hats in his store, had a whole line of patter about that!

Me, I've got one Stetson "Open Road, " kind of a compromise style, and one no-name low-crowned, pine sap-stained broad-brimmed hat in my cranial wardrobe. I plan to keep wearing both of them.

February 21, 2020

CPW Declares Victory over Wild Pigs


A few weeks ago I wondered about Colorado's wild pig population, but as commenter Ron was the first to point out, there now officially are not wild pigs. Officially.

"They are gone," says Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Colorado ist Wildschweinfrei,



If you see one — or know of anyone transporting them — call  USDA Wildlife Services at 1-866-4-USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297) or Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-297-1192.
Feral swine range as of 2016 (CPW).

But since wild piggies are mobile and don't read signs, the solution is obvious. Build a Wall and make Texas pay for it.

February 05, 2020

Pig-hunting Makes Sports Illustrated — What about Southern Colorado?

Feral pig (USA Today).
UPDATE, 21 Feb. 2020: Colorado Parks and Wildlife claims to have eradicated all the wild pigs. But did anyone tell their Texas relatives?


At Sports Illustrated, a Texas-centered account of North America's growing wild/feral pig problem and the hunting of same from helicopters by paying customers.
Wild pigs, by all accounts, make entertaining quarry for these sportsmen. They’re smart, elusive and faster than you think—up to 30 mph at a sprint. And that very appeal is, essentially, the root of the whole problem. America’s love of pigs as sport-hunting fodder has sowed a situation it can’t shoot its way out of. And might not want to.

“If they were not fun to hunt, we would not be in the shape we’re in,” says Higginbotham, a beard’s worth of mustache framing his mouth on three sides. “And I term it to be: We’re in a war.”
Up in Saskatchewan, where there are few good flying days, corral-style traps and "Judas pigs" are touted as an answer on agricultural lands. (I think I will start saying that whenever I am annoyed: "Well, Judas pig!")

I do not know if southern Colorado lacks a major pig problem, or if I have just not talked to the right people. So far, I have seen only one alive, in a little riparian area feeling into Pueblo Reservoir. Southeastern Colorado seems to be the place, but this outfitter is on the Western Slope.

Another time, my dog Shelby (the Bandit Queen, we called her) disappeared, and I found her about a mile away along a little gravel road, chewing lumps of fat off a discarded black pig's hide. So somebody got one somewhere. Shelby paid the price that night, vomiting copiously.

February 03, 2020

Exurban Mule Deer: Middleweight Sparring

These boys don't care who is watching. Or maybe they want an audience.