Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How you live -- hunting

Before I became a hunter, I fished. Before either, I enjoyed being on an Atlantic beach, chasing clam squirts at low tide; or along the bank of a local stream, chasing painted turtles; or chasing fireflies through a nearby meadow on a Summer's evening. Even before any of that, I have vague memories of sitting between rows of vegetables in our Italian neighbor's back yard garden, watching sunlight dapple through the leaves and onto my hands and arms as I reached to put any and everything into my mouth, to test if it was good to eat.

Often I take pleasure in the beauty of nature. Even more basic on Maslow's hierarchy, I take pleasure in the taste of nature's bounty. I've hunted, or been involved in hunting, each of the five game animals listed below, in the bioregion which we each inhabit. Deer and turkey and bear often wander through the property that's my home range. Canada [not Canadian] geese, and many different species of duck, Summer on nearby waters. In all the years we've lived here, I've only seen one ruffed [not ruffled] grouse.

Over the years I've learned a little about the food and habitat preferences of quarry I've pursued. That's been one of the major doors through which I've entered my learning about and love for nature and what she offers. We can't really love what we don't know, can we? On the other hand, I used the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources web site to confirm the "permissable hunting season" and answer the second part of today's bioregional quiz question.

List five game animals that can be hunted in your region
and the permissable hunting season of each.

  1. Bear -- 09/01/15 - 10/18/15
  2. front yard black bear
    front yard black bear
    Photo by J. Harrington

  3. Whitetail deer
    • Archery -- 09/19/15 - 12/31/15
    • Firearm (northeast) -- 11/07/15 - 11/22/15
    • Muzzleloader -- 11/28/15 - 12/13/15
    back yard whitetail deer
    back yard whitetail deer
    Photo by J. Harrington

  4. Waterfowl -- Sept. 26-Oct. 4; Oct. 10-Nov. 29
  5. back yard Canada geese
    back yard Canada geese
    Photo by J. Harrington

  6. Turkey -- 04/15/15 - 05/28/15
  7. back yard turkeys
    back yard turkeys
    Photo by J. Harrington

  8. Grouse -- 09/19/15 - 01/03/16

Hunting Manual

By Eleanor Wilner 
The unicorn is an easy prey: its horn
in the maiden’s lap is an obvious
twist, a tamed figure—like the hawk
that once roamed free, but sits now, fat and hooded,   
squawking on the hunter’s wrist. It’s easy   
to catch what no longer captures
the mind, long since woven in,
a faded tapestry on a crumbling wall
made by the women who wore keys
at their waists and in their sleep came
hot dreams of wounded knights left bleeding
in their care, who would wake the next morning   
groaning from the leftover lance in the groin,   
look up into the round blond face beaming down   
at them thinking "mine," and say: "angel."   
Such beasts are easy to catch; their dreams   
betray them. But the hard prey is the one   
that won’t come bidden.

By these signs you will know it:
when you lift your lure
out of the water, the long plastic line
will be missing its end: the lure and the hook   
will be gone, and the line will swing free   
in the air, so light it will be without
bait or its cunning
sharp curl of silver. Or when you pull
your net from the stream, it will be eaten   
as if by acid, its fine mesh sodden shreds.

Or when you go at dawn to check your traps,   
their great metal jaws will be wrenched
open, the teeth blunt with rust
as if they had lain for years in the rain.
Or when the thunderstorm suddenly breaks   
in the summer, next morning
the computer’s memory will be blank.

Look then for the blank card, the sprung trap,   
the net’s dissolve, the unburdened   
line that swings free in the air.
There. By day, go empty-handed to the hunt   
and come home the same way   
in the dark.



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