Category Archives: random thoughts

Courting Controversy & Marrying Compromise

This week, police officers in the City of Toronto shot a sick coyote.  There was a hue and cry about it from many areas and these vociferous arguments appealed to the basest instincts in the animal versus humanity dichotomy: anthropomorphism, concepts of value relative to human versus animal life, and some abstract concept of kinship with wildlife.

A June photo of the coyote in question. Photo lifted from www.cp24.com
A June photo of the coyote in question. Photo lifted from www.cp24.com

Most of it was bunk.

You see, per the media narrative, this coyote was a ‘single father’ raising three pups after his companion female coyote met her demise under the wheels of a car. This coyote’s death put the orphaned pups in danger (presumably more danger than they already were in as simply being urban coyotes), and the Toronto Wildlife Centre came to the fore in their objections to this course of action, making arguments that stray domestic animals were more harmful than this solitary coyote, that a coyote had only once been documented to ‘nip’ a person in Toronto, and that they themselves could have undertaken the humane treatment and rehabilitation of this heroic animal (although there was no indication, at least in the media, that they had actually attempted said treatment program, even though they admitted that they had been to the den of this coyote).

The theme is all too common.  The abstract and presumed well-being of wildlife being secondary to some ‘what-if’ scenario involving injury, inconvenience, or danger to a human population.  The coyote just wants to ‘live’ while humanity is the intruder in the animal’s domain.  Who is the real animal in this equation?

Et cetera, et cetera.

To put a finer point on this, let’s just do a thought experiment.  Imagine if you will, a member of the Toronto Wildlife Centre, or any other member of the public for that matter, attending the pup-laden den of said coyote w3ith nothing but good, helpful intentions.  Then the father coyote shows up.  Would there be hand-wringing and debate on the part of the coyote about the appropriate course of action, or debates about the merits of the intentions of the human, or would there be a reaction to defend the den and his offspring?  I can say with at least some degree of certainty (having been in reasonably close quarters with coyotes) that they can be vicious and dangerous when faced with survival situations, and while they are supremely adapted and bafflingly clever, they are still wildlife with instincts prone to defense of territory, defense of offspring, and defense of food.  It is presumable that the intruder in the den might face a sobering situation, and concepts of humane treatment or the abstract details of the human’s life likely would not enter the coyote’s frame of reference.

Who’s being anthropomorphic now?

Of course, that we can have debates about humane practice at all truly crystallizes the fundamental difference between the animal and human experience.  Observations of coyotes has shown me that they can do some basic planning, they can do some basic problem solving, and their will to live and ability to adapt is second to very few other native animals in Ontario.  But they are not rational, they are not erudite, they do not do math, and they are single-minded in one thing: survival.

And on the topic of survival, it is very likely plausible that an animal in such wretched shape could only have survived that long in an urban environment with access to human-generated food sources; severe mange of the kind seen on the coyote in question is a near-certain death sentence to truly wild coyote.  Again, the coyote apologists would use the stock answer of that being at least a ‘natural death’ with seemingly little concern for the suffering endured by the animal.  Also, and I’ve always stated this with conviction, a slow, potentially agonizing death, is still a death.  That it is caused ‘naturally’ by the chill of a vicious January night on a mangy coyote’s body or ‘unnaturally’ by the bullet from an urban police officer really has little bearing on the final outcome.

So here I am, walking that dangerous and controversial line between the rationalist viewpoint that in terms of safety and what could nebulously be termed ‘the greater good’ having a mange-riddled coyote that is attempting to support pups wandering and hunting through urban and suburban Scarborough is probably a bad idea.  At the end of the day I can understand, if not outwardly support the actions of the officers in this scenario.  A more impulsively misanthropic sentiment in me does somewhat lament that the situation has come to this, and I can certainly sympathize with the predicament the coyote (and less outwardly relatable wildlife like skunks, raccoons, squirrels, and possums) found itself in.  As someone raised with a lifelong conservation ethic, I never want to see the waste of wildlife.

But this is also time to consider the behaviour of people, and what the hue and cry (not to mention the legal and social ramifications) that would appear if said coyote had injured a person, or done worse than injure a person.  Would an angry populace be so ‘humane’ had it been a more violent scenario, such as the one from Cape Breton in 2009?

Of course there are stock responses for that argument as well from apologists.  That was an isolated incident.  That was the fault of people for not giving wildlife respect/a wide berth. That was a rogue animal.  People (whatever that means) deserve aggression or should expect animals to ‘fight back’…as though animals know there is even a fight happening, as opposed to just acting on instinctual behaviours.

Et cetera, et cetera.

Of course the fundamental issue with these arguments is that, like it or not, at the most base and primal level, human life is more valuable than animal life.  It is a fairly recent, and probably impermanent paradigm, and most certainly not to be taken on a case by case basis (because there are several thousand people that I find less enjoyable than I find a wild turkey or a white-tailed deer) but on the overall balance.  We often hear that when it comes to drug use, car accidents, preventable diseases, and the like that ‘one person’s death is one too many’, and without a hint of apology I stand by this ethic when it comes to wildlife encounters at large.  Essentially I adhere to the following principal: If an animal can kill you back, and you are not being reckless or unnecessarily provoking to the animal, then I’m okay with people taking reasonable steps to end the animal before it has the opportunity to end you.  This is not radical thinking.  It is pragmatic and realistic. I personally am not some callous, gun-toting hillbilly that shoots every animal he sees on sight, but even if I were, that would not be germane to the greater argument surrounding this specific scenario in Scarborough, because the argument is about whether the coyote should live at the potential future risk to the people in that area at large.

I have seen many coyotes from afar that were simply doing ‘coyote things’ like hunting, travelling between territories, and generally doing a good job surviving.  I had no desire to shoot those specimens.  If I saw one in my backyard, acting erratically, sniffing around my door, or looking either sick and/or aggressive, then that’s a different set of circumstances and I would want to be granted (as I would grant any individual or agent of the state, like say, police officers) the liberty to handle the situation in a proactive manner.

Because it is not just hunters, conservationists, and animal rights activists that get a say here.  It is people at large and how they view interaction with all levels of wildlife that are required to make their own ethical decisions; decisions which often compromise some level of their personal ethical integrity.

Because even though the situation in Scarborough ended with the black and white choices of life or death for that coyote, the grey areas in urban wildlife management policy, the inevitable reliance on the almighty dollar, humanity’s occasionally misrepresented beliefs about animal behaviour, and our modern view of human-wildlife interactions informed the preamble to that final, some might say inevitable, outcome.

Honour Among Thieves & Unity Among Hunters, or, The Seven Deadly Sins of Hunter Relations

As surely as there are death and taxes, you can bet that however, wherever, and whatever you choose to hunt that there will be someone out there that knows how to find fault with the way you do it.
 
I long ago got used to the opinions, taunts, jibes, and snide remarks of the taciturn, illogical anti-hunter or the misinformed and self-assured non-hunter (which are two distinct sides to the same coin), but it was not until I started this pseudo-public, completely unprofitable forum for my hunting stories, opinions, and general bunk that I came to realize how much hunters truly hate other hunters.
 
Now before you send the hate mail which would only go to prove my thesis, hear me out.  I’ll also apologize for a moderate use of salty language in the following.
 
In observing this, I’ve found that there are a few ‘classifications’ for this hunting community ill-will and for lack of a better term, bullying, which I’ll outline now.
 
Jealousy
Some people don’t get to hunt as much as they would like, and others don’t get to hunt the species or areas that they would like.  Sometimes this is a function of time, occasionally this is a function of funds, and sometimes it is mixture of both.  Regardless of the cause, jealousy at the opportunity, success, or enjoyment that other hunters experience can be a catalyst for much resentment.  The jealous hunter will scoff at others, and disparage their skills or outcomes, solely because the jealous hunter cannot or has not yet had that opportunity themselves.  Consistently successful hunters have to deal with this as well, and can fall prey to all sorts of accusations of unethical hunting or benefiting from being in a ‘target-rich’ environment.
 
Low Self-Esteem
Related to jealousy, but with its own distinctive patter, hunters that don’t hone, respect, or value their own abilities often find every opportunity they can to denigrate and humiliate those with skills, no matter how modest or extravagant those skills are.  This type of hater calls the seasoned marksman ‘lucky’ or ‘nothing without a scope on their rifle’.  They may have never placed a decoy in their life, but they’ll tell you how your pattern isn’t working.  They tell you you’re doing everything wrong, or too much, or too little, but they don’t ever do it themselves.
 
Competitiveness
Competitive hunters attempt, and are sometimes successful in their efforts to suck all the joy out of hunting for others.  You shot a 10-point buck?  They’ll make it their life goal to shoot a 12-pointer.  Shot a banded mallard?  They shot ten of them.  Trying for a wild turkey Grand Slam?  Well they have five of those and are working on an Ultra-Super-Extra-Difficult-Intercontinental-Mega Slam.  I don’t have any issues with hunters driven to succeed; I know and hunt with plenty of those and in some ways I’m one of those myself.  But when every personal goal comes at the comparison of the outcomes of others, I fear you may be missing the point of hunting altogether, or worse, you are using hunting to compensate for some psychological deficiency (see Low Self Esteem above).
 
Anger
Unbelievably, I missed a deer this year.  Several factors I could not control, and one that I could (my decision to shoot at all), contributed to this.  I don’t get a lot of opportunities to shoot deer, so I can safely say I was ticked.  Maybe even angry.  It happens.  But within two hours, a steak, and a couple of beers later, I was fine.  What I’m referring to here is not the attendant frustration that comes when you make a mistake.  No, no, what I’m talking about now is the hunter that is always mad at something.  They are mad at the weather, they are mad that game isn’t moving, they are mad that game is moving when they themselves aren’t there, and most of all they are mad at other hunters for having the temerity to hunt with, near, or remotely adjacent to them.  They want all the hunting to themselves, and they are visibly and permanently enraged that anyone else impinges on their ‘right’.  These people are not fun at all to be around, and if you find that no one wants to spend a lunch hour in a cabin with you, odds are you’re an angry hunter too.
 
Puritanism
It is the job of the puritan to keep hunting elite. Do you use a turkey box call?  They use their voice, and think you should too.  Do you shoot rifles at deer?  They bow hunt and are smug about it.  Did you pack mule into an elk or sheep hunt?  Sacrilege, why you should have been doing it on foot, humping all your equipment in on your own back you lazy schmuck.  See where I’m going with this?  The puritan not only understand ‘fair chase’ but they feel it is their sole responsibility to define and enforce the standard. 
 
Now, there is a difference between adherence to a high ethical standard and puritanical ways of viewing hunting, and this is often the grey area of the debate.  Laser guided scopes, ultra-high quality electronic game calls, and high-definition camouflage and scent elimination systems often push that ‘traditional’ envelop, but there is a reason we aren’t all still chucking pointy sticks at mammoths.  Progress happens and you can only avoid it for so long.  Likewise pride is different from puritanism, but when you value ‘your way’ as the ‘right way’ or worse the ‘only way’, well then I haven’t really got any time for you.
 
Hypocrisy
Hypocritical hunters will criticize and lambaste other hunters for things that, admittedly, they have no problem with.  Their issue and argument always seems to be that there is only a problem when you shoot a duck on the water instead of on the wing, when you shoot a big whitetail over a bait pile, or when youenlist an outfitter for a trophy hunt.  They like to reserve special privilege to their own situation and worldview.  Again, we all recognize hypocrisy when we see it, so start identifying it and cutting it out of the hunting dialogue.
 
Expertise
The most insidious of the groups of hunters hating hunters are the “Experts”, both of the self-proclaimed variety, as well as those acclaimed as experts by consensus.  I would wager that the ‘expert’ class, or the ‘expert’ mindset is responsible for reducing hunter enjoyment more than any other of the above.  I’m not talking about the benevolent, avuncular mentor that guided you to your first deer or took you pheasant hunting for the first time when you were a child.  I’m talking about the ‘expert’ that finds fault in the methods, ethics, and outcomes of even the most earnest and experienced hunters.  They are in your hunting camp and they are in magazines.  They are online and on TV, and part of the hunting ‘industry’ at large is based on this servile toadying to the “expert” caste.  These people hold others to a moral standard that they themselves have defined, and only they will ever be above their own judgment.  They know the better way, the secrets, and the overall fashion of how this sport of hunting should be done because they are experts, and you never will know those things, because you won’t ever meet their standard of excellence.  They take the democratic equality out of hunting, and they boil it down to a contest.  In short these people are the embodiment of all the above types of unpleasant person, which makes them assholes to be around.  Avoid them.
 
I guess all of the above is somehow tied up in the psychology of the kill in some way; maybe seeing someone else’s success or enjoyment of the hunting pursuit somehow diminishes the self-worth of people with the above character traits, forcing them to belittle others so as to aggrandize themselves.
 
I don’t know…maybe some people are just jerks and cannot help themselves.  The truth is probably a fraction of both at play.  The worst part about all of it is every one of the above traits (and I’m sure there are more that I haven’t discovered yet) is that they all serve the same purpose; to divide hunters against hunters.  It may well prove the downfall of the modern hunting culture.
 
I also guess that there is a bit of irony in me taking the pulpit to sermonize and decry these types of hunters, but that’s not really what I’m doing with this piece (or at least I hope it isn’t what I’m doing with this piece).  My policy has long been that so long as it is legal, safe, and that it most importantly does not negatively impact the public perception of the hunting tradition, then I don’t really care how you hunt, so long as you’re enjoying yourself, and I’ve been on record in this forum and other social media with that stance for a long time.  I think we all have a bit of enviousness, puritanism, or self-exalting expertise about ourselves; that’s just how people are hooked up.  The hard part is to set those traits aside when we’re discoursing and involved with other hunters.
 
Hunting is an intensely personal thing, and people forget their impact on others when it comes to things they are passionate about.  I get it, and I know that it’s a fine line, but it may be the only chance hunters have to see the common ground between themselves.

The Punk-Rock Parallels and Perils of Hunting in the 21st Century

There are some things that many of you don’t know about me, and sometimes that is for the best.  I work in a corporate environment and frequently people learn something new about my personality and they say “Well, that’s a surprise…”
And they’re not always saying that just because I don’t look like a ‘typical’ hunter.
I don’t drive a big 4×4.  I don’t have a drawl or a regional accent or even any ‘rural’ affectations.  I’m not politically conservative, and I don’t talk about guns or ammunition at all.  And thus some people are downright shocked when it comes up that I am a hunter.  And I used to think there was something wrong with me…perhaps I wasn’t doing it right?  Maybe I wasn’t as serious a hunter as I thought I was.  Was I a ‘closet hunter?  And I’m not talking about the kind of person who goes to housewares stores looking for cabinetry.  Maybe I wasn’t proud enough? Maybe I needed posters and bumper stickers?
That was when I realized that there wasn’t something wrong with me.  There was something wrong with all the people judging the book by its cover.  I mean  isn’t that just typical urban/suburban nonsense to assume that everyone who hunts has to be some dip-spitting, plaid and camo wearing, foul-talking, beer-swilling, blood-lusting hillbilly?  Just like those insulated city-dwellers to not have a clue about the wilderness and what nature is really all about…not the way us hunters do.  I mean, how hypocritical could you be to have a negative view of hunting and still eat meat from a grocery store?  To weep when someone shoots a deer, but to stomp on earwigs and spiders?  What a load of elitist, liberal, B.S.? Right?
And after thinking that way for a while, I realized that something wasn’t wrong with them and something wasn’t wrong with me.  Something was wrong with all of us.
I went through a similar crisis of identity when I was late in high-school and into my early university days.  You see, you may not believe it (again with the preconceived stereotypes) but I’m really into punk-rock.  I mean really into it.  I have thousands of dollars of CDs, because I still buy hard-format music (that’s right I’m just that much a punk-rock hipster and support those bands accordingly).  I have spent close to equal amounts of money on going to concerts and buying band merchandise in the form of posters, decals, hoodies, and t-shirts because unlike the ‘big’ label artists, most of the bands I follow are two or three bad merchandise weeks away from ceasing to be a band and resuming a transient life of itinerant work and squatting in homeless shelters.  Late in high-school I started to develop the classic identity assertion; dressing strangely, getting drunk at house parties and lying to my parents about it, blaring loud music and generally being an insipid, dopey kid.  In university I went even further, adopting bizarre haircuts (yes I did do the mohawk and ripped jeans look for a while) and going to obscure philosophy classes and workshops in coffee houses where I talked about evil conservative governments, and social activism, and generally became an even more insipid and irritating young adult.
But the whole time I was trying to be a hardcore conservative, country-talking, liberal-bashing, chest-slapping hunting stereotype, I was still buying album after album of nihilist, socially progressive, free-thinking punk rock.  Hell, I was even getting into ‘real’ country…not this modern cookie-cutter nonsense, but real dyed-in-the-wool, gritty down home country and rockabilly.  Not because I’m some music snob, but because the message spoke to me.  And those messages were ‘Do it your own way’ and ‘don’t let anyone control or determine who you are’ and ‘The rights of people matter, and no one can take those away’.  These are, coincidentally, the same messages I hear in a lot of the discourse on modern hunting.  Don’t believe me?  Pick up a Petersen’s and tell me that’s not a punk rock publication at heart.  They do it their own way and agree with them or not, they are going to keep doing it that way.  I’m not for all their views, but they write some darn good hunting stories there and ultimately that is what I’m paying for.
And the whole time I was in philosophy and politics seminars trying to come up with a solution to world hunger or disprove the existence of god (or prove the existence of god for that matter, because frankly, you can’t do either), or the hours spent trying to impress people with how I was a hip, progressive, modern intellectual I was wishing I was in a goose blind watching the birds lock-up and drop into the decoys or I was dreaming of leaning against a tree on a steely November morning listening for a deer to come tip-toeing through.  Because that message spoke to me too, and that message is (or at least I think it is) that there are things out there that are well beyond my control and understanding, and wild animals reside in a plane of comprehension so utterly foreign to humanity that the best we can hope for is the thrill of deceiving them enough so that we can pursue them, observe them at close quarters, and if we’re lucky, take one home for the cookstove.
Both of my ‘constructed’ identities were false.  I couldn’t be an abjectly fanatical hunter and fall victim to the patterned entrapments of that culture.  I didn’t want to own a big truck, and I didn’t care about Toby Keith, and I certainly had enough of a conditioned distrust of the institutions of god and country thank you very much.  But I could not likewise be a card-carrying social progressive and dismiss the economic and ecological value of hunting and fishing, or place the rights of animals above even the rights of humans, or deny the importance of the hunting tradition in the way it shaped who I was, because growing up in a family that hunted imprinted a love of both the raw wilderness and the pursuit of game on me that was indelible.
Sometimes I could not relate to a conservative hunting establishment in the same way I couldn’t relate to liberal academic establishment.  Which was when I learned how stupid those labels and paradigms really are.  Because, the funny thing was, when I realized that I didn’t fit into either of those archetypes comfortably, I found exactly where I fit in.
For me that place was here.  It is where I am now.
So what’s the point of this entire oh-so-boring confessional from a man that most of you never have (and probably never will) meet?  Just so much free-thought I guess, spurred recently from an observation I made in our modern era’s ubiquitous social media.
In my ‘following’ of certain people I noticed a dichotomy.  Literally half of the people I followed would be typified as the “hunting community”.  These people (and for some I’m sure it is strictly a PR exercise designed to keep their sponsorships…either that or they are going through the identity construction I went through over a decade and a half ago) spent the last few days spewing hackneyed nonsense about gun control, and the resurrection of their personal savior (even though, sadly, many spelled resurrection or even ‘risen’ incorrectly), and the granfalloon trappings of NCAA rivalries which ultimately mean nothing but are still used as a barometer of relative regional worth.  And I was at first amazed that people cared about stuff like this.  But really, I followed them not for their religious or political or social commentary, but because they loved the outdoors and hunting as much as I did, and that they told good stories, and that they understood what I understood about the importance and value of our shared hunting experiences.
The rest of the people I followed were the comedians, writers, thinkers, social activists, and musicians that spoke to, informed, and appealed to the rest of who I am.  I guess for some this may seem schizophrenic or convoluted, and perhaps you may even think it hypocritical (yes, I buy records from a band of hardcore vegans with semi-Communist political viewpoints…but holy crap can they ever shred a guitar solo and their drummer is simply one of the fastest that I’ve ever seen…after all that is what I’m paying for) but it does not matter what you think.  Just as it does not matter what I think.
Where it gets dangerous is when you or I fall into the easy trap of letting the words, actions, thoughts, and ambitions of others over take our own values and we become nothing more than the mouthpiece of someone else’s agenda.  It is when you stop being who you are and start ‘acting’ like someone you think you should be.  Sometimes it is obvious, but usually it is insidious and slow.  Just because I hunt and my Dad hunts and Ted Nugent hunts and my cousin Dane hunts, we are not all even remotely the same person.  Thinking and behaving otherwise would be ridiculous.
That is the parallel and the peril of the modern world.  Because I can almost fully assure you that Fred Bear, Jack O’Connor, Peter Hathaway Capstick, Tom Kelly, Robert Ruark, and others in the pantheon of modern hunting greats had no time for any of that crap; they were in it for the hunt.
And maybe, in our efforts to define ourselves as hunters, we’ve forgotten that last bit.

Fixin’ and Tinkerin’

So here we are deep into the dog-days of summer around my parts and since nobody seems keen on letting me onto their property with some cottontail distress calls and a .243WIN, there’s nothing for me to hunt.  I’ve never met a community that so loves groundhogs and coyotes that they look past any damage those populations are doing.  Oh well.

So what do I do in the meantime to stave off the stir-craziness?  Well, I do what every other dyed-in-the-wool hunter does when the hunting stops.  I toy around with my gear, I tinker with things I ought not to tinker with, and I rig together solutions for problems that never really existed.
Examples?  Sure!
I was fortunate enough last fall to have bluebird weather for pretty much all of my waterfowl hunting.  Didn’t get rained on once; and only got a bit damp and dewy one humid morning in late September.  Despite that I am fanatically putting the WD-40 to all the dry, un-rusted hinges of my layout blind that prior to me slopping them with gunk were in near-mint condition.  I mean downright pristine; now they are kind of shiny and slippery…but I’m good in case I do get some wet weather when I’m goose hunting in a couple of month’s time.  In another semi-related example of waterfowling as a mental illness, I am seriously considering weaving together some kind of homemade “stubble-wrap” (it’s like bubble wrap, but more painstakingly manufactured and infinitely less addictive to play with) to put on my layout blind.  I endured some mild teasing last goose season for my apparent ineptitude when it came to grassing up my blind, so in an effort to protect my ego, I’m thinking of creating some kind of matrix with lawn clippings, decorative corn stalks from the local craft shop, polymer glue, and chicken-wire.  I’m not sure if this would decrease or increase the teasing, but if it garners me another 45 minutes of sleep, I’m all for it.
I also just can’t keep my hands of my firearms right now, and this is something I’ve come to be quite comfortable with over time.  It seems that every July and August finds me almost robotically cleaning, oiling and then re-cleaning and re-oiling all of my weapons…even ones I haven’t used since their last cleaning and oiling.  To the untrained eye this may seem like classic obsessive-compulsive behaviour.  So what, like you’re so well-adjusted?
Game calls have a special place in my heart, as anyone who frequents this forum is well aware of.  The summer months become a symphony of wilderness sounds in my house, as I tune up goose and duck calls for the workout they will be receiving from early September right through to January.  This year I’ve heard a rumour that there will be a summer turkey calling contest as well for me to attend, so whereas in the past the yelping, cutting, clucking, and purring normally stops it has this year remained a fixture of the noise that permeates my house.  I am likewise preparing to re-attend and re-embarrass myself at the Ducks Unlimited Goose Calling Contest in Toronto this August, so I often find myself seamlessly swapping out my turkey diaphragm calls for my Tim Grounds Super Mag: if you haven’t heard such music, I assure you that you are missing out.  Throw in the tantrums of a bossy three year old and the wailings of a ten week old baby and you have the makings of a cacophonic maelstrom of wilderness and human language.  When the calling ceases, I am feverishly working, almost in mad scientist fashion, to tweak and tune my instruments in an effort to smooth out any sour notes…so yes, I’m aware that most of those are due to operator error, and no I don’t care.  I’m too stubborn to learn new methods so I’ll just reverse-engineer the calls to suit my style.  Yes, I know that voids the warranty.
Of special focus this year is physical fitness.  Before anyone that has actually met me starts giggling, know this is based solely on my recent broken leg.  I have not turned over some radical new leaf, and I will continue to consume fried meats, potato chips and dip, bacon and eggs, and the occasional cold beer.  Maybe some fruit and vegetables will fall in there by accident, who knows.  I have, however, found that the long term sloth that I became accustomed to during my recovery has left me woefully weak in a cardiovascular sense.  Since we don’t normally drive into the places we hunt (no one in our group owns a waterfowl trailer, and I don’t ATV much in deer season) I am making an effort to get jogging for the next 90 days or so.  When I’m hunting, I like to save my breath for making snide remarks and using a goose call; I’d rather not be winded and gasping just from bringing in a gun and some dekes.  Plus, it is nice (and cost-effective!) to fit into all the gear I wore last year.
All this preparation however, comes at a price.  We are preparing our house for sale, and being out in the garage clanging away at gear or blaring on various and sundry game calls does make me less available for things like de-cluttering, home staging, picking paint colours, and providing my thoughts on carpet patterns.
Don’t worry friend, I’m managing even without those simple pleasures.  I sense that these chores that my wife so graciously takes on while I do my important hunting prep are somehow mysteriously linked to much of my gear disappearing into Rubbermaid boxes that are sealed with intricate and completely impenetrable webs of duct tape.  Luckily I have a variety of secret stashes where I can squirrel away all I need to ensure my continued efforts are not thwarted.

All in all, the coping process as I count down to the opening day of goose season (which is the first sure sign fall is coming as far as I’m concerned) is going pretty well.  I’d be happier if the regs would just come out so I can go buy a license and really put preparations into high gear, but that usually isn’t for a few weeks yet.  For now, it is just time to enjoy the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.  Enjoy your soda, pretzels, and beer.