The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fighting Cabin Fever

Tools to survive January

Around Traverse City hunting season is pretty much over, except for rabbits and squirrels, both of which face big opposition from the woman of the house, there is not that much ice for ice fishing and it is just too cold for "normal" fishing, so cabin fever rules.

Last weekend I shot a couple rounds of skeet, but they are not real birds, and I've been around for work, a short trip to Mexico and another to Arkansas, which translates into a lot of reading time.

Jackson Landers' "Eating Aliens" is a very insightful and entertaining book about his adventures and misadventures hunting invasive animals species in the United States and nearby places. Mr. Landers targets exotic and feral animals and fish, gets many and misses some, and faces the general incompetence and lack of interest of federal government employees, be it mismanaging black iguanas in Gasparilla Island or feral pigs Virginia's Black Bay Wildlife Refuge, and some very dedicated and accomplished Missouri Department of Conservation battling Asian Carp. In my view his biggest miss is not targeting the most destructive of all exotic invasive species, Felis catus or your neighborhood house cat, which by the way tastes just like rabbit.

I also read Steve Smith's "Shotgunner: Reflections on Birds, Guns and Dogs", which is well written and beautifully illustrated by his son. What a winning combination! We both share the passion of hunting birds with side-by-side shotguns, and in general I agree with most of his reflections, and may have a slightly different view on others, particularly in the matter of chokes. But besides providing grounds for conversation of libations, there is little if any practical consequences in these minor differences.

And yesterday my wife and I drove down to Grand Rapids, MI, to meet our friends Bob and Pam Scott. While Bob and I visited the Huntin'Time Expo, Pam and Maria! At the Huntin'Time we met our friend Jeff Helms of Agawa Canyon Outfitters to discuss a new possible adventure in bear country, had plenty of small talk with guides from here, there and everywhere, looked at gadgets (that is Bob's specialty), and almost avoided buying anything until close to the exit.

I stopped to look at a full tang damascus knife, but when I handled it the handle and balance were disappointing, then I saw a folder nearby. It was a KA-BAR Dozier Phat Bob. A limited edition with a 3 inch D2 steel blade and greenish Micarta handle, with a line lock as robust as we can expect. The knife feels massive and capable. It probably will seat ingloriously within my collection, butit may find a more dignified life. Let's see what the future brings.

Earlier in the month I did some reading on John Donne (1572-1631) and was particularly struck by Meditations XVII ("no man is an island...from whom the bell tools") and Elegy III - Change. I leave a small extract of the later:

To live in one land is capitivity,
To run all countries a wild roguery.
...change is the nursery,
Of music, joy, life and eternity.


  1. The KA-BAR is one of the best knives I've ever had the pleasure of owning

  2. what's your favorite rifle/gun to shoot with if you dont mind me asking?

  3. That is a very difficult question to answer, as there is is not one gun that will do it all. The Caesar Guerini Summit that I use for clay birds is very different from the side-by-side game guns that I use for grouse and woodcock, and almost unrelated to the rifle(s) I use while deer or bear hunting. In my basement I have fun with airguns and twenty-two's.
    In "Pheasants of the Mind" (1990), Datus Proper says "When I'm not near the bird I love, I love the bird I'm near," and I would paraphrase him by saying that when I am not shooting the gun I love, I love the gun I'm shooting.

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