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hunter's Journal
hunter's Journal
August 25, 2012

Proudest day of my grandfather's life was when Armstrong walked on the moon.

My grandpa was one of the many, many engineers who made it possible, but it was Armstrong and his fellow astronauts who had the guts to ride that dragon.

August 7, 2012

Hunter goes hunting wild animals with a rake...

My wife's parents live in the Sierra foothills near a river. It's long been cattle country so it's home to every sort of non-native invasive weed, from thistles to a dozen kinds of obnoxious grasses that stick in your socks.

There's a shaded sandy beach on the river that we keep clear of these alien invaders for entirely selfish reasons. It's a great place to hang out on hot summer days. We walk down to the river with our rakes and hoes, and in a few minutes the beach is clear.

Our family dogs have always considered this place heaven on earth. Our little children build sandcastles and try to catch fish.

Recently, back at home in the heart of agrarian California, we visited our local animal shelter. This never turns out well because we usually end up taking home the most un-adoptable dog they have. This time was no exception.

The dog that caught our attention was an old hound. She was covered with scars, she walked crooked, she was missing teeth, three-quarters of her tail, and a few chunks of ear. The shelter people said they'd put her down if they didn't find her owner.

But she was among the most intelligent, well-mannered, and gentle dogs we'd ever met. She looked so sad and depressed in the shelter, like she'd rather be dead than have no pack and nothing to do. My wife told the shelter we'd adopt her.

The shelter did find her owner, but he couldn't take her back. By the dog's behavior, especially her fondness of pickup trucks and her calm demeanor around power tools, I'm guessing he's a construction worker suffering some hard times.

So the dog came home with us and she is a wonderful gentle soul who sleeps in the sun, does a happy dance whenever anybody pays her attention, and is extraordinarily attentive to the rules of our household.

We knew she would love visiting my wife's parents.

It's a long hot drive across the valley and fifteen minutes after we arrived we decide to take the dogs to the river. On a typical visit to the river the family dogs will splash through the water, romp about, playfully chase a few mice, rabbits, or ground squirrels, and then dig in and settle down in the cool sand.

First thing new dog does at the river is hold her nose up sniffing, sniffing... and then she dashes across the river and into the brambles, faster than I've ever seen her move, with the rest of the dogs following in joyful pursuit. Then we hear a huge amount of thrashing in the underbrush. Then our youngest dog, who looks like a big fox or a little red coyote, a fearless hunter of mice and chaser of road-runners, suddenly leaps out of the brush, falls six feet sideways into the river, swims across, and hides behind my wife.

I grab a rake and run across the river towards the commotion. Then I hear our other dog, who's an easy going mutt with the temperament of a big lazy urban labrador retriever, yelp in terror, and then she too comes flying out of the brush and into the river, and her head is bleeding. (Fortunately it was just a scrape, probably the result of her hasty retreat.)

At this point the old hound is the only one left in the brush chasing after something, and singing with joy.

I tear through the brush and brambles with a rake in hand, and old hound dog sees me. She leaps over a big boulder, out of sight. I see nothing. Then I hear a rustling maybe three feet from where I'm standing.

I look down, belly level in the brambles, and it's the face of a monster. And hound dog is on the other side nipping at its ass.

The beast looks at me like it could kill and eat me. I know it could. I hold the rake uselessly in front of me and take a few steps backwards. Then three hundred pounds of tusked angry pork takes flight, deftly dodging the rake, brushing against me, hound in hot pursuit.

I know she's a good dog because she eventually came back when I called, and she has since forgiven me for letting the hog escape. Now I know how she got those scars. She hunts hogs.

This experience has got me thinking about a lot of things, especially how unnatural it all was. First of all, I'm burning gasoline to drive with my family across California to visit a "natural" place populated with Eurasian imports like thistles and pigs, with a dog bred and trained to hunt these pigs.

But even before Columbus, this "natural" environment was greatly modified by the first Americans.

So I'm thinking what comes next? Will we recreate and enjoy a "natural" environment of our choosing someday, maintained with a deft and skillful hand, or must we suffer chaos and collapse?

There's so much in this world we don't see. Most of the time those pigs on the opposite shore of the river are invisible to us.

Profile Information

Name: Hunter
Gender: Male
Current location: California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 38,583

About hunter

I'm a very dangerous fellow when I don't know what I'm doing.
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