The Great West Virginia Deer Cull

buck white antler

The second Thursday in November has just passed. In most of the country, thoughts will be about the big feast that comes exactly seven days later, but not in my part of the world.

This coming week does include American Thanksgiving. Big family meals will be held that day, and swarms of people will go charging out to shopping malls on Friday.

But in West Virginia, another holiday takes precedence: “buck gun season.”  This coming Monday, the woods be filled with more loud booms than the Fourth of July.  Organic protein and “horns” will be the prize, and a few more forest destroying cervids will be removed from the population before the coming winter turns them into twig chomping fiends.

When I was a child, all sort of people came into the rural districts, often people who had grown up in the area but had gone into the industrial parts of Ohio for work. Ohio’s deer season, “shotgun only,” came later in the year, but West Virginia’s came the week of Thanksgiving. If one wanted to visit the family for the holiday, why not come a few days early and drop a buck for the freezer?

It was such a big event that the school was out all week, not just Thursday and Friday. We received a truncated Christmas vacation, but school attendance during that week would have been terrible. So the district let us all out.

And the tradition continues. I don’t know of a single school district in West Virginia that stays open the week of Thanksgiving.

In fact, virtually every college or university in West Virginia has a week-long holiday this coming week. It is that big a deal.

And it’s not like the deer are massive trophies. The state has antler restrictions in only a few public hunting lands, and in most of the state, there will be many young bucks taken. Because the “antlerless” firearms season occurs at the same time, button bucks will be taken as well. When that many younger bucks are removed from the population, the number of mature deer with nice racks becomes much lower.

But this is a state that allows the hunter to take six deer a year.  If you have a family who owns land and have two hunters who have resident rights to it, you’re talking potentially twelve deer killed a year, which could feed a family of four fairly well.

I come from a family of deer hunters, but they were not venison eaters. When I was a kid, every deer that got shot was given to a relative or someone who couldn’t hunt. My grandpa, who loved to hunt everything and would have us eat cooked squirrel brains, wouldn’t even field dress a deer. That was my dad’s job, and for whatever reason, if my dad or my grandpa even smelled venison cooking, it would make their stomachs weak.

I never had this problem, and in the last few years, I’ve learned how to cook venison properly. I much prefer the meat to beef, especially when we’re talking leaving certain steak cuts rare.  These deer have been living well on acorns, and their flesh has that oaky, rich taste, which some call gamey. I call it delicious.

I’ll be in the woods early Monday morning. I don’t know if I’ll get anything.  The odds are usually against my killing anything that first week.  I don’t have access to the best deer bedding grounds, and the hunting pressure means they won’t be moving into the area where I hunt.

My favorite time to go is Thursday evening, when more than half the local hunters are at home watching football games and digesting turkey. I would rather go through waterboarding than watch a football game, so it’s not big loss for me.

I am a naturalist hunter on the quest for meat. My ancestors in Germany, the Netherlands, and Great Britain hunted the red deer and the roe thousands of years. They got their meat from the forest.

I am doing the same.

And if you really wanted to know what I think of deer, I’d have to say that I love them. They are fascinating animals.  This particular species has been roaming North America virtually unchanged for 3 million years. This animal watched the mammoths rise and fall. It was coursed by Armbruster’s wolf and the American cheetahs.  It saw the elk come down from Beringia– and the bison too. It ran the back country with primitive horses and several species of pronghorn. It quivered and blew out at jaguars and American lions that stalked in the bush, and it dodged the Clovis points of the Siberian hunters who first colonized this land.

The white-tailed deer thrives so well, but this coming week is the beginning of the great cull. Fewer deer mean less pressure on the limited winter forage, which means healthier deer in the early spring. Better winter and spring condition means that does have had a chance to carry fawns to term, and mature does usually have twins if the conditions are good.  Healthier bucks get a better chance to grow nice antlers for the coming year.

A public resource is being managed. Organic meat raised without hormones or antibiotics is easily procured, and stories and yarns are being compiled for exposition that rivals any trophy mount on the wall.

I know deer stories, including ones about the people I barely knew and are no longer with us.

For example:

My Grandpa Westfall once went on a deer drive for my great grandpa, who was getting older.  He valued his clean shot placement, as many of those old time hunters did, and he would not shoot a deer on the run.

But as he grew older, deer hunting became harder for him, so my grandpa decided to jump one out to him.

My grandpa went rustling through the brush to drive one into my great grandpa’s ran, and he happened to bump a nice little buck and a few does that went running in his direction.

Expecting to hear rifle shots, my grandpa was a bit surprised to hear nothing. So when he approached the deer stand, he saw my great grandpa sitting there.

“Did you see those deer?”

“What deer?”

“I ran three out to you. A buck and two does. Why didn’t you shoot?”

“I didn’t see or hear any deer.”

“Well, you should have at least heard them.”

“Well, if there were that many deer coming my way, they must’ve had their sneakers on.”

He didn’t want to tell my grandpa that he appreciated the effort, but that deer drives were against his ethics. He shot deer cleanly, or he didn’t shoot them at all.

These old men will be with me when I’m out on Monday.  I go in their memory, participating in the Great West Virginia Deer Cull.

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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Thanks for the kind comments. A sobering reality c…

Thanks for the kind comments. A sobering reality check though: With the exception of these pups, we're not able to help much with this case. With nearly zero rescue resources available to semi-feral adult dogs,100 or more will be facing euthanasia in order for this high volume breeding operation to cease. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear when I wrote this. Trying to offer a realistic account without inciting panic can be a tricky balance.
BAD RAP Blog

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Is that the “Look of Love” in Your Dog’s Eyes?

Dog Eyes

You know how some dog trainers caution to never look a dog directly in the eye – that it can be threatening or intimidating or send a negative message along those lines? And might even incite a dog to go after you?

Now this may be true if you run into a crazed-killer-mutant-mad dog like Cujo in a dark alley some night (in which case tiptoe slowly backwards, averting your gaze!), but I’ve found that confident, well-socialized dogs love nothing more than to have you gaze adoringly into their big brown peepers. The Look of Love!

In my case (with dogs whose eyes are actually the yellow/green color of a cat, because they are Weimaraners – whose eyes start out baby blue and then change around six months of age), Maisie and Wanda virtually insist that I look right at them when we are interacting. They sit and stare intently at me when I’m at the computer (for example right now Maisie’s eyes are boring a hole in my side, willing me to look at her and pat her!); then when I do stroke or scratch them, they always position themselves so they can look back right at me, as if to keep me engaged. And if I really lock eyes with them they just melt with happiness.

I’ve also noticed they are affected not just by my tone of voice, but by my facial expression – they are definitely studying my eyes and mouth. I have been curious if my expression affects them and to test it I have purposefully given them a big giant grin. It seems to me they respond in kind, opening their mouths slightly and, in Wanda’s case, becoming so ecstatic that she also makes a series of joyful, cup-brimming-over cooing sounds.

Now it turns out that our dogs’ expressions can reflect ours. The New York Times recently reported in an article that British researchers studied the facial expressions of dogs — in particular the muscle that raises the inner part of the eyebrows and makes their eyes look bigger. The study noted whether the person was paying attention to the dog or was turned away; at times the person was holding food and other times was empty-handed.

The study in the journal Scientific Reports showed that the dogs were more expressive when the person was paying attention to them, and that it didn’t seem to make a difference whether the person was holding food or not. The dogs reacted by sticking out their tongues and barking more when they did get attention, compared with when they were being ignored or given food.

“This simply shows that dogs produce more (but not different) facial movements when someone is looking at them,” Juliane Kaminski, the study’s lead researcher and a senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth in England, was quoted in the New York Times article. There was also an opinion from Brian Hare, a professor and director of the Canine Cognition Center at Duke University (which was not involved in the study), who told The Times that these findings should be gratifying to any dog lover who worries that his dog only cares because he’s being fed.

I would add that having your dog’s full attention is actually a ”treatable moment” – something worthy of a fine little reward. Whether their attention is freely given in a spontaneous moment of trying to decipher your intentions or mood – or when you get your dog’s full attention in response to coming when called – or simply responding with a head tilt to hearing you speak her name – these are all good occasions to pull out a super dandy treat (Halo Liv-a-Littles work nicely here – my girls are partial to the liver cubes!) and reward the dog’s focus on your face. All while smiling broadly at her and gazing in mutual adoration!

Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

Halo Pets

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Why Dogs Vomit Undigested Food

Dogs vomit undigested food occasionally and if this happens to your pet it shouldn’t be cause for alarm. It’s normal for dogs to vomit sometimes, but if the vomiting is accompanied by diarrhea or bloody stools, the dog should be examined by a vet and treated as soon as possible.

When a dog eats inedible food it can develop gastrointestinal …
Dog’sHealth.com Blog

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Friday Funny: I Broke the Cat

#FunnyNotFunny Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


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Here is the best news you’ve heard all day…

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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7 Tips For Keeping Your Home Safe (+ A 3 Camera Security System GIVEAWAY from Blink!)

7 Tips For Keep Your Home Safe

This post is brought to you by Blink Home Video Security. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

As a mama to two young kids who travels often (and who has a husband that is gone close to half the year working on the road), home security is important to me. I won’t go into the detailed scenarios that have repetitively played in my head that more or less involve multiple masked burglars in striped shirts attempting to invade my house a la A Christmas Story. Instead I’ll just say that, while I refuse to live a life fueled by fear, I am realistic about the fact that break-ins do happen. Like all of us, I want to do the absolute best I can to keep my family and home safe. I’ve done research into ways to do this, and have come up with a system of things that (knock on wood) has worked for us. And today, I thought I’d share them here, in hopes our personal recommendations might help out those of you looking for ways to best protect your home and family as well.

1. Choose your locks well. Not all locks are created equal, and it’s worth it to invest in well made models that do their jobs. We actually have a smart lock system for our front door with a keypad that’s connected to our phones. On other doors, we’ve made sure to get quality deadbolts with hardened steel bolts. And of course, always change the locks if you move into a new home or apartment.

2. Connect with your neighbors. There is strength in numbers, and it’s a proven fact that when neighbors look out for one another, crime is reduced. We always let our next door neighbors know if we’re going to be out of town so they can keep an eye on our place, and we do the same for them.

3. Avoid “hiding” spare keys outside. It might seem like common sense not to do this, but I actually know a lot of people who keep an extra house key under a doormat or in a flower pot. I used to do this myself, until I read an article that talked about how many break-ins occurred using a house key that was easily discovered in one of these common spots. If you feel better having an extra key available outside your home, leave one with a neighbor that you trust or a local friend or relative.

4. Use timers on your lights. This is an easy way to make it appear you’re home even when you’re not. You can set them on both indoor and outdoor lights.

5. Pay attention to your landscaping. Make sure that trees, bushes, etc. that might conceal entrances to your house are trimmed so they don’t become convenient hiding places and/or ways to enter through windows.

6. Get a Blink Wireless Home Security and Monitoring System for inside your home. This was truly the best move we made in terms of increasing our home security. We have the Two Indoor Camera System, and it is awesome you guys. The completely wireless home security cameras send motion-activated alerts and high quality HD video right to our phones. (Check out my Instagram Stories to see a video from our outdoor camera!) The system is also incredibly affordable (and has no contract or subscription fees), is super easy to set up, and runs on two AA batteries for 2 years. And it’s really cute too! That cameras are small with modern, minimal design that fits in beautifully with our decor. The system gives us peace of mind when we’re traveling and makes me feel safe when it’s just me here with the kids. It’s also a great way to spy on the kids (ha!) when they’re in a different room than I am. True story.

7. Get a Blink XT Outdoor Camera for outside your home. Package theft is a huge problem these days. I can’t tell you how many friends I have (both city and country dwellers) who have had boxes stolen right from their front doors. I receive numerous shipments for work each week that are left on my porch by carriers, and was in need of an effective way to help prevent this by allowing me to easily see when I have packages on my porch (and/or if there seems to be any sort of suspicious activity going on in that area). The Blink XT is the official weatherproof outdoor version of the Blink indoor cameras we love so much, so it was the obvious choice for me. It has all the great features of the indoor camera, and is also weatherproof and has infrared night vision. In addition to the fact that the Blink XT helps my packages stay safe, it provides extra security for our home as well.

GIVEAWAY TIME! We love our Blink wireless home security systems so much that we’re teaming up with Blink to give one lucky Bubby and Bean reader a Two Camera Indoor System AND a Blink XT Outdoor Camera (a total value of almost $ 300!). To enter, just click here and enter your email address. This giveaway runs until November 20, 2017. Woot!

What ways do you keep your home and family safe? I’d love to hear any other tips you might have!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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‘Tis the Season

1. Jungalow  |  2.  Eat in My Kitchen   |   3. Live It Beautiful   |  4. Bubby & Bean   |  5. Weekday Carnival  |  6.  Fraeulein Klein  |  7. Lovely Life  |  8. Pinterest (no original source found) 

I know, I know. Thanksgiving is still almost two weeks away, and here I am sharing a bunch of random Christmas themed images. And honestly, I’m one of those people who waits to put up holiday decor until at least the last month of November (and usually, the beginning of December) and doesn’t start holiday shopping until two weeks before. But my big plans to enjoy the simple pleasures of the season and take the pressure off myself (see yesterday’s post for more on that) include things like late night holiday pinning sessions on Pinterest, where my mind doesn’t have to think about anything more than why, despite the madness that accompanies it, I really do love this time of year.

Whether or not you’re ready to embrace the holidays, I hope these images inspire you (either now or later in the season) like they did me. Enjoy your weekend, friends!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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You stepped up and are doing your best. Com…

You stepped up and are doing your best. Commendable by any measure.
BAD RAP Blog

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Schnauzers

Nothing to see here…just three gorgeous Giant Schnauzers, brought to you from the Facebook page of Schnauzer Lovers. Happy Sunday! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


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