Colleen from Chicago put up a post last year arguing that fox hunting is the best extreme sport, which has started making the rounds today in hunting circles.
Fox Hunting is the hottest extreme sport you’ve never seen, let alone tried.
Who doesn’t like the thrill of the chase? How about a sport that is hundreds of years old, involves a private club, speed, thrills, horses, hounds and the rugged outdoors? What if it involved lots of ladies in tight pants straddling horses, spurs, whips, alcohol and getting to say “bitch” as much as you like? Mounting regularly? Breeding? How about offering the lady of your choice the chance to wrap her lips around your flask in public? Thinking you will surely die, yet living to tell about it? Who wouldn’t like this sport?
Guess what? Our ancestors were on to something. They may not have had Xbox but they did have the hunt box. They practiced the extreme sport of foxhunting – formal, expensive, dangerous and an incredible amount of fun. Traditionally a very private and exclusive sport, fox hunting has been made rarer over time by urbanization. While it may be difficult to pursue country sport in the city, fox hunting continues today -even just outside most of our major cities. Today, fox hunting is also much more egalitarian and truly more about chasing rather than harming fox these days. If you enjoy risk, danger, adventure and nature, and have a desire to party like your ancestors, fox hunting might be the sport for you.
She’s perfectly right. As Mr. Jorrocks observed:
“‘Unting is the sport of kings, the image of war without its guilt, and only five-and-twenty per cent. of its danger!”
The young, pre-WWI Ernest with his first model Colt Woodsman in a shoulder holster and a large catch of tiny trout.
Ah! A pre-season look forward to impending trout season written by Ernest Hemingway for the Toronto Star in 1920.
Not a great piece of writing, and no expression of dry fly purism either. But in one short passage of two sentences, there is a glimpse forward to the masterful Big Two-Hearted River. And we are reminded of the old days, when steel fly rods were the hot new cutting-edge of fishing technology, and the fly fisherman fished a couple of wet flies on a dropper.
[A] vision of a certain stream… obsesses him.
It is clear and wide with a pebbly bottom and the water is the color of champagne. It makes a bend and narrows a bit and the water rushes like a millrace. Sticking up in the middle of the stream is a big boulder and the water makes a swirl at its base. ...
A snipe lights on the boulder and looks inquiringly at the fly fisherman and then flies jerkily up the stream. But the fly fisherman does not see him for he is engaged in the most important thing in the world. Deciding on his cast for the first day on the stream.
Finally he bends on two flies. One on the end of the leader and one about three feet up. I’d tell you what flies they were, but every fly fisherman in Toronto would dispute the choice. With me though they are going to be a Royal Coachman and a McGinty.
The fairy rod waves back and forth and then shoots out and the flies drop at the head of the swirl by the big boulder. There is a twelve-inch flash of flame out of water, the flyfisher strikes with a wrist like a steel trap, the rod bends, and the first trout of the season is hooked.
William G. Zincavage (my father) fulfilling his top-of-the-food-chain responsibilities in 1947.
Last month, NYM linked an article on Slate reporting that hunting was catching on among left-wing, bicycle-riding hipsters as a sort of an extension of back-to-the-land locavore fashion. The hippie berry-pickers and mushroom-gatherers have been slowly evolving into hunters.
Today, we find, on the eminently leftist blog Obsidian Wings, an article by an anti-gun suburbanista from New Jersey styling herself “Doctor Science,” who has suddenly discovered that hunters have an important role to play in wildlife population management.
The way I see it, humans are the top predator around here, and we have an ecological obligation to act like it. Which means killing deer, especially the young ones and the does. In other words, for food. The reason the venison we had last week was so exceptionally scrumptious was because it came from a 2-year-old antlerless animal, just the kind you’d select if they were farm-raised.
What I’m seeing in NJ is that hunters and birders (and other conservationists) are working together more than used to be the case. ...
I don’t know if there will be a shift in hunting culture, if hunters in places like NJ come to see themselves as ecological agents who don’t just “harvest” or exploit wild animals, they use their skills to perform crucial tasks of population control and management.
“Doctor Science” (I keep struggling to suppress a derisive snort every time I read her self-application of that undoubtedly grossly exaggerated appelative) attributes her enlightenment on the unfashionable subject of hunting to her being a bird watcher.
We spend time outside, cultivating patience, observational skills, and learning to keep our feet warm. Birding definitely taps into part of the ancient hunting impulse, to chase things down and find them out. I can definitely understand hunting on a gut level and see the appeal, even though I’d be a pretty terrible hunter.
I think she’s probably right about the last, since she is obviously pretty lousy at finding things out.
If she was much of a hunter of information, about birding, for instance, she’d know that wildlife in North America generally was saved from extinction, parks and gamelands created, habitat preserved, commercial hunting suppressed, and bird and animal species successfully managed (and sometimes dramatically restored) by hunters.
She would know that John James Audubon invariably reduced to possession with a gun the Birds of America he recorded in his paintings.
She would know that the Conservation Movement of the late 19th century that preserved from extinction, and brought back only too successfully, those white-tailed deer she finds delicious was created entirely by prominent sportsmen, by men like Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, Charles Sheldon, William T. Hornaday, John C. Phillips, Aldo Leopold, and others. All of those gentlemen wrote books which the lady could hunt up and read. There is also a general survey of the history of the conservation movement in this country, published in 1975, and titled An American Crusade for Wildlife.
“Doctor Science” is sufficiently self-enamored to suggest that hunters ought to become more like left-wing suburban bird watchers, give up their NRA memberships, quit liking and collecting guns, and use firearms guiltily, reluctantly, and only when thinking of them as food harvesting implements. Aesthetic, historical, technological, and associative sentimental appreciation of firearms would be wrong. Just as hunting for sport, for the personal pleasure of participatory experience of the active role in the natural contest of predator and prey, for the aesthetic awareness of the ritual of the chase, and for the sense of self-identification with a rich, immemorial tradition would be wrong. It is only right, she tells us, to hunt in order to acquire “healthy, clean meat to feed my family.”
It is typical of self-congratulatory liberal narcissism to think that one’s own provincial and Philistine outlook and motivations represent the supreme moral ideal that the rest of mankind needs to be taught to emulate.
In Qatar, you can buy falcons at a shop in the mall.
Condé Nast Traveller has an interesting photo essay illustrating the centrality of the sport of falconry to Arab culture in Qatar.
In the US, falconry is so buried under a preposterous and massively burdensome regulatory regime that only an infinitesimally small community of total fanatics can participate. (There are something like 4000 licensed falconers out of an American population of 300 million.) In the United States, you can go right out there and buy a horse any time you like and take him home, but not a falcon. Unlike horses, you see, raptors are sacred and they all really belong to our federal government and various international conservancy committees. You must have special permission at both the state and federal level to borrow one of their birds. You are required to take a federal exam, sign up for a multi-year apprenticeship under a licensed falconer, and open your home to federal inspection to even possess your first hawk, and your choice of falcon is restricted to only 2 (in some regions, 3) species until you achieve a more advanced license level.
Can you imagine a dog ownership regime that would require federal licensing and then would allow you only to own a chihuahua or a Golden Retriever until you had been a licensed dog for two years? Then you become a “general dog owner” and can own two dogs at the same time, including such more interesting breeds as poodles, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds. You would need to be licensed for five years before you could be a “master dog owner” and own three dogs at the same time or be permitted to possess the more exotic and desirable salukis, borzois, and Akitas.
It’s different in Arab countries, where falconry is a far more prominent and mainstream sporting activity.
Slate reports on an unusual and highly ironic development among the fashionista set.
[T]he evolution of the new lefty urban hunter goes something like this:
2006: Reads Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, about the ickyness of the industrial food complex. Starts shopping at a farmer’s market.
2008: Puts in own vegetable garden. Tries to go vegetarian but falls off the wagon.
2009: Decides to only eat “happy meat” that has been treated humanely.
2010: Gets a chicken coop and a flock of chickens.
2011: Dabbles in backyard butchery of chickens. Reads that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg decided to only eat meat he killed himself for a year.
2012: Gets a hunting permit, thinking “how hard can it be? I already totally dominate Big Buck Hunter at the bar.”
Hunting is undeniably in vogue among the bearded, bicycle-riding, locavore set. The new trend might even be partly behind a recent 9 percent increase from 2006 to 2011 in the number of hunters in the United States after years of decline. Many of these new hunters are taking up the activity for ethical and environmental reasons.
“It feels more responsible and ecologically sound to eat an animal that was raised wild and natural in my local habitat than to eat a cow that was fattened up on grain or even hay, which is inevitably harvested with fuel-hungry machines,” writes Christie Aschwanden, a self-described “tree-hugging former vegetarian.”
A recent spate of books with titles like The Mindful Carnivore and Call of the Mild chronicles the exploits of these first-time hunters as they wrestle with their consciences and learn to sight in their rifles.
We are going to have to read an avalanche-load of omphallic ethicizing and isn’t-it-wonderful-that-I’m-the-first-civilized-human-to-master-the-skills-of-my-primitive-Republican-neighbors accounts, but all this is still doubtless going to turn into a positive development. Hunting puts man in direct touch with Nature and allows him to enter personally into its processes. Hunting fulfills a deeply-embedded portion of our human nature, and the activity and experience of hunting inevitably makes us healthier, mentally as well as physically.
Perhaps, Nature has actually come up with a way to seduce residents of the urban community of decadence and mental disorder back into health. One pictures the metrosexual gradually turning from reading Rolling Stone and Mother Jones to picking up Garden & Gun and Double Gun Journal.
Old Dominion Masters Douglas Wise and Gus Forbush in front of Henchman’s Lea announcing the beginning of the hunt and identifying the leadership of the various fields of riders.
We’ve been having a balmy Fall hunting season up until yesterday. The previous night a front rolled in dropping the temperature 20 degrees and bringing biting winds.
Nonetheless, an exceptionally large field turned out for the Saturday meet at Henchman’s Lea, doubtless motivated in part by the lavish hospitality of the hosts manifested at a Lucullan post-hunt breakfast.
Watch Karen’s photography site for the eventual appearance of a full photoessay devoted to this particular hunting day.
Huntsman Gerald Keal leads the Old Dominion Hounds out to hunt.
Yesterday: there is an addition to the Blue Ridge Hunt’s field waiting for the appearance of huntsman and hounds on the road outside Greenwood in White Post, Virginia.(photo: David Norman) click on picture for larger image
Although it’s the preseason, and Blue Ridge is cubbing and therefore the field is attired in Ratcatcher, our professional staff wears red as a safety measure while cubbing to help deer hunters who often share the same woods distinguish them from the local whitetails.
An elephant hunting video in which the professional hunter very competently stops an unexpected charge. I’d call that a pretty good moment of excitement. It would be nice to know in what country they were hunting, what caliber rifle (probably a .458) that professional was carrying, but they never properly annotate these.
And, yes, Virginia, there are a number of African countries in which elephants can legally be hunted, in which elephant numbers are excessive, elephant populations are rising, and in which elephants create serious problems by coming into conflict with human beings. Trophy fees for elephants are extremely high, and the monies raised fund the conservation departments which control poaching.
Poor jumbo did bite the dust but, before shedding big salty tears, do take note that in the seconds prior to his demise he was advancing purposefully on the humans in the video with lethal intent. The elephant initiated hostilities against people who had every bit as much right to be walking in that African bush as he did.
Shooting a charging elephant at close range is an experience most of us will never have. In many cases, I expect just as well, because not everybody could shoot as fast and as straight as that professional hunter.
Western Outdoor News: COMMISSION PRESIDENT CELEBRATES A SUCCESSFUL HUNT – California Fish and Game commissioner Dan W. Richards travelled deep into the wicked terrain of Idaho’s Flying B Ranch to fulfill a long-held goal. “It was the most physically exhausting hunt of my lifetime. Eight hours of cold weather hiking in very difficult terrain. I told the guides I appreciated the hard work. They were unbelievably professional, first class all the way,” he said. Richards said he took the big cat over iron sights using a Winchester Centennial lever action .45 carbine. Asked about California’s mountain lion moratorium, Richards didn’t hesitate. “I’m glad it’s legal in Idaho.”
The LA Times reports that the president of the California Fish and Game Commission has been successfully hounded out of office by the usual West Coast crowd of left-wing extremists for the outrage of legally taking a trophy mountain lion on a hunt in Idaho. Residents of California have been regularly stalked, occasionally mauled, and even killed and eaten by mountain lions in unprecedented numbers of incidents since hunting lions in the Golden State was banned by whacko-supported initiative in 1990.
The California Fish and Game Commission was created a century ago (1909) by sportsmen to manage and regulate the state’s wildlife resources. Its operations and programs are funded by license fees and taxes on sporting goods paid exclusively by hunters and fishermen.
But, in California today, the tyranny of the fruits-and-nuts supporters of the democrat party is so far-reaching, their intolerance and bigotry concerning other people’s lifestyles and convictions so great, that the president of the state Fish and Game Commission has been hounded out office by a six-month-long campaign of vilification based on his being guilty of legally hunting!
Daniel W. Richards was replaced as president of the California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday, seven months after he sparked a storm of controversy by killing a mountain lion during a hunt in Idaho.
Although the kill was legal in Idaho, California has outlawed the hunting of mountain lions for decades. More than 40 state legislators called for Richards to resign in March, saying he showed poor judgment in killing the cougar when the practice is opposed by most Californians.
At the time, Richards defiantly refused to resign from the commission, saying he had done nothing improper. Even though the commission voted to elect Commissioner Jim Kellogg as president Wednesday, Richards plans to remain on the commission until his term expires in January. ...
[Michael] Sutton, an executive with the Audubon Society [who was at the same time elected Vice President of the Fish and Game Commission], said later that the killing of the lion and Richards’ comments defending it were factors in his decision to vote to replace Richards.
“It was pretty clear that Commissioner Richards had lost the confidence of the majority of the commission,” Sutton said. “Most of us feel it is inappropriate to use the presidency as a bully pulpit for your views.”
The president of the State Fish & Game Commission is supposed, in California, to be out of line when he uses his office to speak in favor of hunting.
The presidency and control of the commission will be passing out of the hands of the sportsmen who pay for it and into the hands of Environmentalist granola-crunching ideologues eager to implement new policies based on junk science, Animal Rights theories, and hostility to firearms and the field sports.
The LA Weekly describes the politics of the situation:
[A]lthough Fish and Game commissioners haven’t explained specifically why they decided to vote Richards down from his throne today, it was clearly a symbolic move to kill the human who killed the beast.
“The president of the commission should be someone who has the confidence of a majority of his peers,” Mike Sutton, vice president, told the Mercury News leading up to the vote.
Richards was playing the feisty right-wing ideologue at the beginning of this battle, but he has since became strangely resigned to his ousting.
He looked on as the commission changed its own internal election policy in May so that they might replace Richards. And today, a Fish and Game Commission spokesman tells us that Richards himself took part in the unanimous vote to elect Commissioner Jim Kellogg as his replacement.
The ex-prez, appointed by Arnold Schwarzenegger (surprise, surprise) in 2008, will remain on the commission until his term ends in six months. But from there, he tells the Mercury News: “I think there is a zero chance that Jerry Brown will appoint me, so it doesn’t matter what I think. He has his hands full with shoplifters and other thugs in the Legislature.”
Pretty morbid, right? Let this be a lesson for all trigger-happy Republicans who dare to dream of swimming against California’s blue tide: We’ll eat your grin for dinner.
From Steve Bodio, a photo essay on hunting foxes with the Kazakh Tazy (or Tazi or тазы), the local version of the saluki or Persian greyhound, a hunting dog which pursues its quarry by sight.
The tazy is regarded as a Kazakh national symbol. This essay tells us that there was an old Kazakh saying that one tazy could feed an entire village. Tazy are described as capable of running down prey at speeds up to 80 kph (49.7 mph).
According to the Russian text, there are only 300 thoroughbred Kazakh tazy left: “300 Spartans.” I’m afraid that I don’t buy into that “only 300 left” stuff. Steve Bodio and I both own Kazakh tazy.
Our Uhlan looks a lot like those “thoroughbred Spartan Kazakh” dogs to me.
An amazing photo slideshow from photographer Ken Graham of Maryland’s Potomac Hunt.
Getting a photo of the hunted fox is every hunt photographer’s supreme goal. Shots in which hounds are so close to the hunted fox that both appear in the same photo are rare and unusual and represent the ultimate trophy photo. This fox (who ultimately got away) happened to pick a line that took him almost on a collision course with part of the pack, producing sensational once-in-a-lifetime pictures.
The closing date is next weekend, and we really didn’t want to miss it. Karen was recovering from the flu. I was feeling unusually arthritic, and the SUV we use for car following was in the shop. What with one thing and another, it seemed clear that the red gods felt we ought to take yesterday off from hunting and go see the sporting art exhibition up in Middleburg.
We set off around 11, and we were only a little over a mile north of our place on the old road to the rocky ford over the Rappahannock, at the crossroad leading to Lord Fairfax’s (later John Marshall’s) home at Leeds Manor, when right across the road (from right to left) dashed a large and handsome red and white foxhound, undoubtedly belonging to the Old Dominion pack.
He was lost, away from the pack, and we considered trying to catch him and give him a lift back to his pack, but he dashed off too quickly out of our path to the west.
We crossed the intersection and proceeded north, and we had only traveled the equivalent of a couple of blocks along the forest-lined road, when there we saw ahead of us, running north on the road, Charlie himself. The fox was, in fact, proceeding ninety degrees away from the direction that dumb hound had been running.
I followed the fox from a distance with our BMW. As he ran on, I noticed that the road was marked abundantly with hoof prints and horse droppings. Old Dominion’s pack, huntsman, and field had clearly extremely recently passed right this way, and Charles was following them.
After about a quarter mile, the fox decided to take to the woods to the east, where he disappeared. Proceeding on another half mile or so, we found Old Dominion’s trucks and horse trailers parked in a field by a barn at Ardmore.
It was clear that the chase had gone right back up the road to the site of the meet, but wherever the field was, it wasn’t very near the fox, who seemed to be doing his best to look for them, following up their tracks from behind.
We drove on toward the sporting art exhibition laughing.