January 29, 2011

Colorado Seeks Duck Stamp Artist

News release:

DENVER, Colo. - The Colorado Division of Wildlife is soliciting original artwork entries for the 2011 Colorado Waterfowl Stamp Art Contest. This year's species of focus is the green-winged teal (Anas crecca). The deadline for artists to submit entries is 4 p.m., Friday, March 4.

"It is amazing every year to see what the artists come up with and to see the new artists that are starting out in this specialized category of art," said judging committee member Tilman Bishop, a former state senator who sponsored the legislation that created the waterfowl stamp in Colorado.

The Colorado Waterfowl Stamp program was implemented in 1990 and provides funding to conserve wetlands for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife. Waterfowl hunters 16 years of age and older are required by state law to purchase a waterfowl stamp validation annually before hunting. In addition to hunters, many collectors aid in wetland conservation by purchasing collector stamps and prints that are created from the winning entry.

"We are all beneficiaries of the Waterfowl Stamp," Bishop added. "Whether you are a hunter, a bird watcher or just a citizen that likes seeing birds around the house, every one of us gets the benefit of this terrific program."

The green-winged teal is a colorful duck found in Colorado primarily during fall and spring migration, with lower numbers during the breeding season and winter. The vocal and often noisy duck is the smallest North American 'dabbling duck', which feed on the surface of waters instead of diving for food. It is one of the most frequently harvested ducks taken by Colorado waterfowl hunters, and is known as excellent table fare.

Artists must submit a 13-inch high by-18 inch wide, full color original artwork for the contest. There is a $50 fee for each entry. Complete requirements are explained in the application packet.

January 28, 2011

Ski Troopers of 1941—And Re-creating the Look

In January 1941, before the United States entered World War II, before there was a Camp Hale, Colorado, or a 10th Mountain Division (over which some Coloradans wax nostalgic), there were infantry "ski patrols" practicing on Mount Rainier, Washington.

This drawing is from a Life magazine article from its Jan. 20, 1941 issue. Those are GI canvas leggings, not "puttees," which were even more evil—something the Brits picked up in northern India and which we copied from them for World War I infantry battledress.

These are puttees.

I had wanted to be the last cross-country (Nordic) skier in Colorado with bamboo poles, but I broke the tip off one last winter.

Googling around, I find antique poles sold at high prices as decorator items. (More reasonable prices on eBay, however.) Various firms offer high-tech carbon-fiber poles wrapped with bamboo for an antique look.

But people are discussing how to find or replicate 1930s ski clothing! On the Internet, you are not alone.

January 24, 2011

Can a Felon Hunt with a Muzzle-loading Gun in Colorado?

 Short answer: No.

The question came up in recent conversation whether a someone with a felony conviction in their past who is barred from firearms ownership could still hunt legally in Colorado with a muzzle-loading gun that used black powder.

The argument was that under federal law, such guns are not "firearms" in a prohibited sense.

The short answer is no. And don't ask about archery either.

Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton discussed the law as follows:
Colorado State Law was amended in 1994 to prohibit the possession of a firearm or other weapons (pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes Title 18, Article 12). It was also amended in 2000 to make such possession a class 6 felony instead of a class 1 misdemeanor. The beginning wording of CRS 18-12-108 is,

(1) A person commits the crime of possession of a weapon by a previous offender if the person knowingly possesses, uses, or carries upon his or her person a firearm as described in section 18-1-901 (3) (h) or any other weapon that is subject to the provisions of this article subsequent to the person's conviction for a felony, or subsequent to the person's conviction for attempt or conspiracy to commit a felony, under Colorado or any other state's law or under federal law.

CRS 18-1-901(3)(h) adds the following provision that covers muzzleloaders and shotguns: 18-1-901(3)(h) "Firearm" means any handgun, automatic, revolver, pistol, rifle, shotgun, or other instrument or device capable or intended to be capable of discharging bullets, cartridges, or other explosive charges.
In regard to archery, he added,
Because 18-12-108 includes "firearm... OR ANY OTHER WEAPON that is subject to the provisions of this article," it also includes "dangerous" and '"deadly weapons." It is the interpretation of the Attorney General and the Division of Wildlife that bow and arrow are dangerous and deadly weapons, therefore, not allowed for possession of persons convicted of a felony.

I am posting this just in case anyone is searching online for the answer.

UPDATE: The question gets asked a lot: "Felons set sights for hunting in Colorado
More than 300,000 hunting licenses are issued for big game alone in Colorado every year and, of those, an untraceable number go to felons. The occurrence cannot be quantified because hunting licensee information is not public record.

Yet every year, game wardens contact felons in possession of a gun, said Randy Hampton, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which oversees hunting.
Bottom line: A felon can buy a hunting license — but can legally use a firearm to hunt with a gun or a bow.  Or as this article puts it: "Colorado Felons Can Hunt, not Shoot."

There is a legal process for some felons to have gun rights restored.  Scroll down to Section I, part C.

UPDATE 2 (December 2019):  Here is the policy re-stated by CPW public information officer Bill Vogrin (bill.vogrin@state.co.us):
State law says a convicted felon may not possess a dangerous weapon. If we make contact with a hunter using a firearm, bow or muzzleloader, and learn that hunter is a convicted felon, we will make an arrest and take that person to jail.
If for some reason a judge or plea agreement granted the hunter an exemption to the law, it will get sorted out once the person is in custody.  That is unless the hunter has court-certified paperwork on him or her at the time of the contact with CPW officers. 
And now that you are here, feel free to look around the blog.


Continental US Forecast for the Rest of Winter

Accuweather's Joe Bastardi provides this map for the continental US with narrative here. He doesn't really talk about our part of the country except to suggest some spring snow storms.

It looks like friends in New Mexico can expect more good falconry weather.

January 22, 2011

'Amerigas: We'll Let You Freeze'

That's my new advertising slogan for Amerigas, offered free gratis for corporate use. It can be an alternative to "reliable, safe, responsive," which is, frankly, a little dated.

"We'll keep you guessing" might work too.

Although we heat part of the time with wood, like most rural folks, we depend on propane as fuel for cooking, heating water, and heating the house at night or when we are away.

From 1992 through 2007, our propane needs were supplied by All Star Propane of Cañon City. Their drivers were almost as unstoppable as Herodotus’ Persian couriers, except that they did not deliver during “gloom of night.”  They came on a regular basis and topped off the tanks at both houses—ours and the rental cabin.

Then All Star was bought by a national company, Amerigas, and customer service immediately got much, much worse. They consolidated operations into Colorado Springs and claimed  that through some kind of computer wizardry, they knew when you needed gas and when you did not, so as the tank dropped past 15 or 10-percent full, you could call them up and complain, receiving vague, meaningless promises in return, and just wait until they filled you up on their timetable.

What is worse, they put both of our tanks on one account. Although the tank at the cabin is leased from them (the normal arrangement with propane suppliers), the tank at our house is owned by us.

Every winter, you could count on the driver to stop by, fill the tank at the cabin, which is closer to the county road, and drive away, assured that he had taken care of that account—but forgetting all about our tank.

More phone calls, more promises, more waiting, more anxiety.

Lucky for us, we can heat with wood during the day, keeping furnace usage to a minimum. I called Amerigas in Colorado Springs and suggested splitting the one account into two—but what do I know? I’m just the customer. Manager Rick Rivers and his merry crew do things their way. (No doubt they have a 40-slide PowerPoint training presentation about all this.)

It happened again this winter—the driver filled up the cabin tank on Dec. 15 and ignored ours. When we came back from our New Mexico trip, it still had not been filled. Then I started with the phone calls again.  Suzanne in the Colorado Springs office promised a fill-up by Friday, Jan. 14.

Of course, no one came. When I tried to call back the next week, they did not even answer the phones or an email to the residential service manager, Mila Sacket, so I had to try the national customer-service number. More promises of immediate action.

Finally on Jan. 20th the Amerigas driver arrived. By then, however, I had given up on them, and with the tank sinking towards 5 percent full (when do we lose vapor pressure and the pilot lights start going out?), I had called a Cañon City supplier, Enxx Propane, where the owner answers the telephone, and they do not even have a Web site

Nevertheless, since the Amerigas driver was on the scene, and the screw-up was not his fault, I asked him if he could top off the cabin tank—it ought to have taken about 100 gallons. “All the drivers carry blank tickets,” Suzanne had said.

No, he could not. He did not have any blank tickets. He could only go to addresses that the computer told him to go to. No individual initiative here at Amerigas!

With propane as with food, it seems better to seek out a local supplier, but in some places that switch is getting to be harder and harder.

January 21, 2011

Hunter's Blog Stew

• Colorado turkey hunters can request a free DVD on turkey hunting from the Division of Wildlife.
Hunters may also call (303) 297-1192 or e-mail wildlife.dowinfo@state.co.us and request a free DVD. These will only be mailed to customers who request them. We encourage you to help preserve Colorado’s hunting heritage by sharing your DVD with others interested in hunting.
• A prime consumer of such DVD's might be those who suffer from adult-onset hunting.

• Hodgeman has thoughts on mentoring new hunters.

• Wild-food blogger Langdon Cook is one of those new hunters.

January 19, 2011

It's What's for Dinner

People living in what is now Texas had dogs 9,400 years ago. Sometimes they ate them.

January 18, 2011

Proper Possum Massage

Just to localize this, the first possum that I ever encountered in the wild was in eastern Colorado, near Bonny Reservoir. This state does have a small population.

If you follow that link, you will find that the Colorado state parks people are allergic to the word "reservoir." It just does not have that recreational connotation. See also "Pueblo Reservoir."

Usage note: A "reservoir" is a manmade lake whose primary purpose is water storage for irrigation and/or flood control. Bonny and Pueblo are both "reservoirs."

Via Phlegmfatale and the Ambulance Driver.

Eagle Days are Coming

This year's Eagle Days festival at Pueblo Reservoir will be February 5-6.

Even if the "festival" part scares you off, it is often possible to spot bald eagles (and plenty of other raptors) around the lake at this time of year.

January 16, 2011

Blog Stew with Courting Foxes

A pair of gray foxes.
As we move further into winter, the foxes are becoming noisy at night. Maybe this is a courting pair. The scout camera was not more than 150 yards from the house for this photo, but in 18 years I have personally seen a gray fox exactly once. They are that stealthy. (Red foxes are much more likely to show themselves.)

Some other interesting links:

January 15, 2011

Hunting and Gathering

A southern Colorado landscape: Junipers, cholla cactus, prickly pear cactus, sandstone—and occasionally rabbits.
I go out with Sawtooth and one of his students, walk for two hours, and get one rabbit, which is now in the pot with onions, garlic, and some of last summer's mushrooms.

M. hikes up onto the national forest and comes home with a pair of compact binoculars. It looks as though their neck cord broke while someone was pushing through the oak brush.

They're just Simmons, but they work. Hunting and gathering.

"Damn, we're good," she says, making dinner.

January 13, 2011

Winter Camping in Karelia

From the blog English Russia, a photo essay on hut-building, mink-trapping, and ice-fishing near the Finnish border. Cold, but not enough to freeze the vodka.

Making Camera Trapping Systematic

The Camera Trap Codger, who is a professional zoologist, took pity on my after my "misplaced" camera incident and sent me one of his "notebooks for notekeeping."

You can see in his photos the data that he collects for each camera set.

The foxes are courting near our house, so I think that it is time to try out both camera and notebook.

Whoosh, Back to the Pleistocene!

It looks like you will soon be able to hunt big game with spears and atlatls in Montana.

Just remember that the old-timers usually went out in groups--unless they were defensive ends for the Minnesota Vikings (YouTube video.)

(Via Outdoor Pressroom.)