February 08, 2012

Mountain Lion Attack at Big Bend NP

I have always assumed that while mountain lions attack lone runners, etc., that they would not bother a group of people.

Evidently this cat did not read the manual — or the attraction of fresh little boy was just too much.

Lucky for Rivers Hobbs, 6, his mom and dad fought back vigorously.

February 07, 2012

A "Brazen and Prevaricating Rapscallion"

M. shops at Vitamin Cottage natural foods store frequently, so she knows the Bragg label well. It presents itself as old-fashioned and almost religious, she said.

But the founder was something else entirely. (That's "daughter" Patricia on the company's website.)

Kind of like Doctor Bronner of the mystic soaps.

Tomorrow I Will Do Something Marking Me as a Potential Terrorist

I will go to a cafe with wi-fi and pay cash for a cup of coffee.

Your tax dollars at work in Eric Holder's Department of Justice.

February 06, 2012

Don't Eat the Dog

Oregon mushroom pickers contribute to the Search & Rescue stereotype of "group most likely to become lost in the woods."

In three days, you think that by following drainages down, they could have found a road, given all the logging roads in the Coast Range, but maybe there were factors that the news accounts leave out.

February 05, 2012

I Would Use this Stove

I like small, wood-burning appliances. I had one little folding "twig stove," then received a "Trekker" Kelly Kettle as a gift — and yes, it boils its pint and a half (0.6 liters) of water in just a few minutes on a fist-full of twigs.

The Kelly Kettle and its relatives are a century-old design, and the old "Tibetan cooker" with central chimney and the samovar, etc., go even farther back.

G-3300 Envirofit stove.
Glenn Reynolds links to a story on an efficient, wood-burning cook stove that has won a prize for Envirofit International, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Colorado State University. 

See it on Envirofit's website.

And if you do not have foreign NGOs operating in your village, you can buy it on Amazon. (Currently listed as out of stock, however.) Why should people in Burundi have all the fun? 

Reynolds sees it as a disaster-preparation item. I see it as a great car-camping and patio stove. (Like the K-Light solar lantern, which I use in the trailer but is too fragile for backpacking.)

Despite the various gasoline and butane-fueled camping and backpacking stoves I have owned, going back to my first WW2-era GI pocket stove, there is something comforting about making a little, inconspicuous fire and cooking something with it.

(Related, sort of: The "butterfly" solar cooker in Tibet here — fine, but not portable. More info on solar cooker projects in mountainous Central Asia.)

February 03, 2012

The Girl Scouts Won't Let You Do This

Matt Mullenix goes hawking with the Tiny Girl Army.
Here in the Sportman's Paradise (!) we are doing our part to balance the gender distribution among bloodthirsty, mud-splattered, briar scratched children.  I call them the Tiny Girl Army, and they are awesome to behold.

"Forests to Faucets"

Otherwise known as fun with GIS technology.  The site lets you see relationships between forests and drinking water.

You can make maps and download various reports. Some other links from the site:

February 02, 2012

January 2012 Western Snowpack

Keep clicking on image to zoom in.
From the National Water and Climate Service (Dept. of Agriculture). You can check SNOTEL monitoring stations at the same website.

Environmental Law Students Sue to Stop 'Over the River'

As the Fremont County commissioners began public hearings yesterday on the industrial-art project "Over the River," law students at the University of Denver's Environmental Law Clinic filed suit against it on behalf of the opposition group, Rags Over the Arkansas River, says the ABA Journal:
Christo plans to stretch fabric over the Arkansas River for two weeks in August 2014, an effort that critics who've dubbed themselves "ROAR," or Rags Over The Arkansas River, maintain is as risky as mineral development.

The installation would cover some 5.9 miles of the river and require the drilling of more than 9,000 bore holes, some 35 feet deep, in a critically sensitive wildlife area, according to a suit filed by the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law(PDF).

The suit against the Bureau of Land Management maintains Christo's project "requires the use of equipment commonly used in mining and road building, such as hydraulic drill masts mounted on Cat 320-330 long-reach excavators, Cat M313D—M322D wheeled excavators, boom truck cranes, grouters, air compressors, water tanks, grout mixers, support trailers, steel rock anchors, and anchor frames."
So ROAR has roared. Their website links to more news stories.

The BLM, which approved the project, says that it was "thoroughly analyzed."

February 01, 2012

The Little Ice Age: Solar Cycles or Volcanoes?

Researchers at the University of Colorado suggest that volcanic activity caused the cooler centuries (roughly the 14th-19th) known as the Little Ice Age.

Or eruptions and solar cycles influence the climate?

Lively comments at the linked blog.

Landowners Can Earn Extra Cash from Hunting

News release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

LAMAR, Colo. - Landowners in southeastern Colorado who open their property to hunters can earn extra cash by enrolling in Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Big Game Access Program (BGAP) for the 2012 hunting seasons.

This year marks the sixth year the program known as BGAP will open up public access for deer and pronghorn hunting on private lands in the following Game Management Units: 116, 117, 120, 121, 122, 125, 126, and 127.  In previous years, up to 140,000 acres were enrolled.

"The Wildlife Commission has funded the program again for 2012 to pay landowners who allow big game hunting access to their property," said Lamar Area Wildlife Manager Travis Black.  "As the program progresses, we are continuing to review landowner interest, sportsmen's satisfaction, harvest statistics and financial viability."

Eligible types of land include river bottom or riparian land with a focus on deer, and upland grass or prairie habitat for pronghorn.  Landowners who meet the requirements of this program will receive payment for allowing hunters onto their land. 

Landowner payments range from 25 cents per acre up to a maximum of $3 per acre depending on the size of the property, type of the habitat and number of days access is allowed.

Participation is by application only. Applications are due by February 25, 2012.   Properties enrolled in previous years must re-apply to participate again in 2012. 

Due to budget limitations, not all properties are accepted.  CPW employees rate properties according to habitat quality and the number of pronghorn and deer that use the habitat. 

Access to land enrolled in BGAP is by walk-in only.  Hunters must have a valid hunting license plus buy a $40 BGAP permit to gain access to enrolled properties.  Hunters can purchase BGAP permits at any license agent or Colorado Parks and Wildlife office. 

The BGAP access stamp allows access to hunt to pronghorn and deer only.  Small game hunting is not allowed unless the hunter gets special permission from the landowner.

Properties enrolled in BGAP are posted with "Walk-in Access" signs.  Landowners' names, addresses and telephone numbers are kept confidential.  

Information about ranch locations, maps and GMUs can be found on the Big Game Access Program page on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.  Landowner applications can be downloaded from the same site.

For more information, or to obtain an application to enroll your land, please contact the Colorado Parks and Wildlife office in Lamar at 719-336-6600.  Address written correspondence to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, c/o BGAP, 2500 South Main St., Lamar, CO 81052.
  Visit this site for more information.

January 31, 2012

Building Bear Dens in Southern Colorado

Completed bears' den. (Colorado Parks and Wildlife photo.)
I have mentioned that M. and I have a sporadic volunteer gig transporting wild animals and birds to and from local rehabilitation centers.

One of those centers, not far from us, fostered seven bear cubs this summer.  Can you imagine how much they eat? And how much comes out the other end?

We had donated several large sacks of dry dog food — just a drop in the feed bucket. The bears got lucky when the manager of the Wal-Mart store in a nearby town not only sent over about a pallet-load of dog food but also cartons and cartons of fruit and vegetables.

As for the rest, let's just say that the question is not "Does a bear shit in the woods?" but "Does a wildlife rehabber dump buckets of bear turds in the woods?"

Then autumn comes. I learned that the rehabbers cannot release bears themselves, the way that they do with birds, deer, foxes, etc. It apparently is a question of liability issues. Wildlife officers pick them up and leave them at undisclosed locations.
Wildlife officers place tranquilized bear in den. (Colorado Parks and Wildlife photo.)
First, though, the state wildlife people have to build dens for the bears. This den is built of straw bales and plywood, stacked next to a rock outcropping. It was large enough to hold two of the half-grown cubs. The photo was taken in early December.

Presumably, they are sleeping there now.

January 30, 2012

A Geologist's Hammer under the Pilgrim's Robe

The trouble with the Telegraph's (UK) obituary of explorer and geologist Augusto Gansser is that there is no one good paragraph to excerpt. They are mostly like this:
Due to the war, the Ganssers were unable to return to Switzerland until 1946, when they took passage on a recently decommissioned British aircraft carrier. Augusto took with him two emeralds which he had found jutting out of a Colombian rock but, at the port, learned that it was forbidden to export uncut precious stones. On the spot, he hid them in the nappy of his infant son.
So you will just have to read it all.

January 29, 2012

SHOT Show: Shed-Huntin' Dawg

My dog Fisher cannot run through the woods without locating every bit of bone or carrion within 200 yards of his position.

Maybe his natural talent is shed [antler] hunting.

As the days lengthen, and depending on the amount of snow on the ground, people will be out looking for the antlers that deer and elk shed after the breeding season. Some just hang them on the wall, while others make things from the antlers or sell them to craftspeople who do.

There are even shed-antler brokers.

Plastic antler
So someone smelled commercial potential. Train dogs to find antlers. Even better, sell stuff to people that will help them train their dogs to find shed antlers! Scents! Plastic "training antlers"!

(You may, the instructions admit, also make your own training antlers out of heavy cardboard or thin plywood, painted white.)

And because we Americans are a proud and competitive people, fond — as Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out — of forming voluntary associations, you have the North American Shed Dog Hunting Association with competitive events and trophies. Go, girl! Hunt 'em up!

(Actually, the website seems to suggest that the association is a creation of the supplier, but I cannot tell for sure. There are precedents for that.)

Breeders probably are already advertising the shed-hunting trophies won by sires and dams.

January 25, 2012

SHOT Show: Scout Cameras Are Shrinking

Near home, mule deer slip through the woods in the early hours of January16th.
I looked at some of the new scout cameras (trail cameras, game cameras) on display at SHOT Show and noticed one overall trend: They are shrinking. No more big cases holding eight D-cells — or even four C-cells, like most of mine. Now it is AA cells that you want.

As with many other electronic devices, they do more with less juice. You can find better video, time-lapse features, and so on.

Palm-size Simmons camera.
Infrared capabilities are increasing. Some manufacturers are claiming that their products now take IR photos without the tell-tale red glow when the IR flash fires, although I did not see a demonstration.

Actually, that feature makes such cameras more desirable to people wanting to use them for home security, as the guy in the booth readily admitted. Scout cameras have already nailed a few burglars, particularly in rural areas.

You will also be told that smaller cameras are less likely to be stolen if placed on public lands.


I have been experimenting with camouflage. Most cameras, like the Simmons pictured, come with a black strap. (Simmons is Bushnell's low-end brand.)

Sneaking up on my own camera sets, I notice that the line of black webbing catches my eye before the shape of the camera itself. Yet most trail cameras ship with a black strap.

Choosing a more tree-matching color helps a lot. So does finding a different way to mount the camera, such as propping it up with small stones on a convenient ledge.

I have taken olive-drab cameras like the one pictured and spray-painted them in my own ponderosa pine camouflage scheme. Thought about gluing bark on the cases, but would it hold up to opening and closing? You can spray-paint the strap with a disruptive color scheme too.

The flash, infrared sensor, and lens still must be exposed though. Camouflage is not perfect — all it can do is make the camera less obvious to an inattentive passerby.