Jagger, a shih-tzu who lives in Nice.
New Year’s Eve is one of those holidays, where you’re supposed to be at a party or watching a football game. I’m not so big into parties, and I cannot tell you the first thing about football, other than it’s about as exciting as watching the grass grow.
West Virginia’s DNR has blessed the oddballs with a little respite. In parts of the state where the deer population is quite high, part of the split doe season is reopened for the last three days of the year.
I still had a doe tag to fill, so I went to the deer blind. The morning hunt wasn’t so good, but I had my evening planned. At 3 PM, I’d already showered again in my scent-killing wash.
I see more deer in the evening. I think it’s because when I go out in the morning, I’m going out to already active deer, but when I go out in the evening, I’m out there before the deer start to move. West Virginia doesn’t allow hunting at night, so I think it would be pretty hard for me to be in the right spot in the morning and still follow the law.
I settled in. The evening sun began to sink beyond the gray canopy of trees. No deer yet. It started to get cold. It would be snowing in two days, but right now, it was just enough to be a nuisance.
I knew the deer would come. I knew that there was a doe and fawn pair that always came down the game trail in front of the blind just as the sun began to sink.
So I waited. And I waited. I remained still. Not a bird stirred. Not a squirrel.
In twilight, a doe fawn suddenly materialized. The winter rays of the sun cast a silvery glow to her mousy gray coat.
I didn’t want to take her. She was young, and if winter conditions were good, she’d have a fawn of her own next May or June.
I waited. Not 30 seconds after the fawn materialized. Her mother appeared behind her. A big doe. Maybe 3 or 4 years old.
I’m sure she was the same doe who had blown my cover in the archery season, and now she was quite fat for winter.
I decided to take her. The experts tell us that we should take the mature does to avoid taking button bucks, and taking these larger does also stops her from having twins next year. Thus, taking her is the best way to protect the future antlered deer and to reduce the deer population the next year.
I moved the .243 off safety, and let the two deer move into position. I had put out some corn scented attractant right in front of my blind, where I knew they would stop.
The fawn stopped. Then her mother.
I gently raised the rifle. I had her in my scope sight. I followed the folds on the inside of her elbow until I was dead-centered on her heart.
I took a deep breath and gently squeezed the trigger.
I didn’t hear the gunfire. I heard the bullet slam into the big doe. She spun once and collapsed dead. A clean, humane kill.
If you ever wonder what a gun can do to a man, just look at what one can do to a deer. Nothing will make you respect them more than use one for hunting. They are not toys. They are not absolute evil. But they must be respected.
The gun in question was my grandpa’s old turkey sniper. It is a Remington 788 model, which had painted camouflage.
Turkey hunting with rifles has always been illegal in West Virginia.
So is hunting them with bait.
Gramps followed neither law.
My dad used it to bag a big buck a few years ago. It’s dead accurate at 75 yards.
But it’s always in the safe. And it’s never brought into the house loaded.
We’re talking a lot about guns this week.
Today, I received an e-mail from the DCCC from a woman whose mother was wounded at the Virginia Tech shooting. I have a cousin who graduated from Virginia Tech, and her father forwarded the same e-mail to me. Guns can ruin lives.
On the other side of the country, a bunch of self-styled militiamen have commandeered a bird sanctuary in Oregon. One of the yahoos appeared on MSNBC covered in a blue tarp demanding that the feds take him there so he could get a better shot at them.
Is this what gun culture has become?
For me, guns are tools of wildlife management, as well as heirlooms passed down from father to son.
To some, they are the very epitome of what it means to be a sovereign American citizen.
To others, they are the sign that America is a barbarous land where the guns crack and the blood spills at all hours of the night.
The truth is I’m not with either of those camps at this moment.
I am reconnected with the old ways, when man hunted the wild beasts for survival.
I’m on a ridgetop in West Virginia, and I’ve sacrificed a white-tail doe to Artemis.
I feel both pride and remorse. I feel pride in that I was able to take the deer humanely, but I feel remorse in that I took a life.
When my grandfather was dying of cancer, he told me that he felt sorry for every squirrel that he wounded but was unable to recover.
And this man was a hunter. A serious one. He loved his guns and hunting dogs.
But he was a predator, not a monster.
When the hunter stops feeling the remorse at the kill, it’s probably time that he or she gave it up.
That remorse comes from valuing life, and it’s the thing that should be at the forefront of one’s mind when you’re holding something as destructive as a gun.
But it’s a fine line between the predator and the monster.
It’s one that I find troubling, but I’m glad that I find it troubling.
I am a person who loves the deer. I am glad our forests are full of them, but I am aware that if they aren’t managed they will eat down all their browse and soon starve to death.
Better to die of a carefully placed bullet than of an empty stomach.
But even that intellectual justification cannot take away the remorse at having killed.
And yet there is still satisfaction.
I am connected to the old ways. I follow in the generations of my species who have thrown spears at quarry, then shot arrows, then musket balls, then these carefully-designed rounds, which can take out a deer so surgically.
I am both awed at the process and humbled by it.
I will continue to hunt the deer. I accept myself as a predator.
But I will not become a monster.
I will always feel that remorse at having killed.
I see what they did there. Enjoy your weekend! Until next time, Good day, and good dog.
Apparently I am incapable of blogging more than once a month. No matter how good my intentions are.
We got Summit’s eyes fixed about 3 weeks ago. Everything went smoothly although they aren’t looking normal yet. We have reached the stitches-are-dissolving-and-his-eyes-are-goopy-and-disgusting stage. :)
He is very much an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of dog. For example, we went snowshoeing the other day, and Marlin went into the outhouse for about 60 seconds. When he stepped out, Summit was shocked to see him and didn’t know who he was. LOL.
The nice thing about that aspect of his personality is that he’s really easy to distract if he is doing something naughty like harassing the cats. I lazy throw of a toy is enough to draw him away.
Coulee has been playing with him like crazy. It’s super nice to see. She doesn’t bully him nearly as much as she does Lacey and they can actually sustain play for 15-30 minutes at a time. (Usually when Coulee plays with Lacey it deteriorates after a few minutes and we have to put a stop to it). Lacey has been like Jeckyl and Hyde with Summit. She can go from wrestling with him to snarling fiercely in the blink of an eye. She’s usually more inclined to play with him outside in the backyard or when we are out on a walk but not always. For a while I was thinking she wasn’t feeling very good but she isn’t showing any other signs so I think it’s just her being crabby.
Lacey’s fur has grown back and you can’t even tell she had surgery on her back not that long ago. That’s pretty much it in “dog news”.
If you haven’t heard the news, we here in Southern California are finally starting to see the effects of the massive, gargantuan El Nino the likes of which we have not seen in our lifetimes. And I think it’s going to be ugly.
Every time we deal with a natural disaster, everyone runs out and gives people tips for preparing and being ready and most people do one or two things but the reality is, there’s only so much time in the day and so many disasters one can prepare for without going full on survivalist. At some point you have to get on with your day and hope you’re not separated from your family when the Big One hits.
The more likely you are to suffer a disaster, the more likely you are to prepare for that particular situation. All Californians know what to do in an earthquake; it’s drilled into us starting with kindergarten (as were nuclear meltdown drills in the 80s when I lived by the San Onofre plant, but in retrospect I’m not sure what good hiding under a desk would have done, really.) The beach roads by my house are helpfully marked with convenient evacuation routes for tsunamis. And after last year, when my kids were whisked out of school while a massive wildfire bore down on my neighborhood, I also revised my wildfire plan.
I figured since I knew what to do for earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, floods, and nuclear core meltdowns, I had all my bases covered and could relax and enjoy the thunder a little without worrying too much, right?
But no one ever taught me what to do about a tornado.
Around noon yesterday, I got a call from my kids’ school that due to the thunder and lightning, they were not letting kids walk out to their parents like they usually do and each of us would have to individually pick up our kids in the car pickup line or park and go into the school. Fine, I thought, and showed up 45 minutes early to get a spot in line.
About 10 minutes after that, I get a panicked text from my daughter that one of her counselors received a tornado warning on her cell phone.
“Don’t worry,” I texted back. “She probably lives out in the boonies somewhere.”
“SHE LIVES HERE,” she texted back, followed by 10 crying emojis.
Then my phone buzzed. “Tornado warning until 3:45 in your area,” it said. “Seek cover immediately.”
Now by this point all the parents in the parking lot are grabbing their buzzing phones like a scene out of a Steven King movie, looking at each other with a quizzical “What the heck does this mean” look. What’s a warning? Does that mean it’s a little windy? Or does it mean an F-3 is bearing down on our little line of cars?
Meanwhile, my daughter- who has been studying geology in school and has a deep and abiding fear of all natural disasters including tsunamis, super volcanos, and the San Andreas fault, is calling me in tears because she got the text as well and now she’s convinced we are all going to die, and I am trying to reassure her everything is fine while a small part of me started thinking about tying myself to the flagpole with a slip lead.
Being the cautious type, I pulled out of the pickup line and parked the car so I could go inside the sturdy concrete environs of the school and join a teeming mass of alarmed parents, none of whom knew what a tornado warning actually meant. A smaller but hardier number remained stubbornly in the parking lot, because in the Southern California school jungle, The Wicked Witch of the East fate is an acceptable risk when it comes to giving up a prime spot in the pickup line.
My daughter requests that we not leave the school grounds until the tornado warning expires, which happens about half an hour later. Most people do not wait, rolling their eyes at the National Weather Services’ overabundance of caution and running off into the winds, umbrellas inside out. I learn later that most of the county schools were ordered to shelter in place, but not us. Fortunately for all involved no tornado actually materialized, because it probably would have eaten up the vast majority of minivans in the region, leaving no one standing but the school principal and us, while my daughter says, “Told you so.”
On the way home, my phone buzzed again. FLASH FLOOD WARNING, it said. STAY INSIDE. There at least was something I knew what to do with. Avoid creeks.
I came home to find poor Brody curled in our laundry room, the only windowless room in the house. My friends in the midwest reassure me that a tornado warning is a big deal and instead of playing Bejeweled in the car one is supposed to run to the center of the house- in my case, our laundry room- and pull a mattress over your head.
My point in all of this is, you can prepare all you want but there’s still always going to be something you just never thought you needed to be able to handle, and that’s probably what is going to get you. And when that happens-
If that happens-
Look to your dog for guidance. He’s the only one with any sense.
First, Happy New Year and welcome to the first official post of 2016! I hope you all had a great long weekend and I wish you guys the very best in the upcoming year. As of now, there is still no baby, but he will be here any day. (Sooner than later works for me, kid!) I was induced early with Essley due to issues with gestational hypertension, so I had some notice, which made it much easier to plan things work-wise and start my maternity leave a little in advance. This time things are more unsure timing-wise, so the tentative plan is to work right up until labor starts, for the most part. I’ve never been this pregnant and it’s admittedly a little hard to get things done but I’m doing my best. My doctor thought I’d have him by now, so my hospital bag is packed and ready to go, as am I. I’ll keep you guys posted. And now onto the actual post topic!
Almost a year ago, I had an idea for a new series called What I’m Wearing Now. I’d just put together a reader survey where I received several comments stating that you guys missed seeing my outfit posts, which had admittedly decreased after becoming a mama (and, like always, were especially few and far between in the winter). I started thinking of ways that I could still share what I was wearing at the moment without relying exclusively on my inconsistent outfit posts, and ‘What I’m Wearing Now’ was born. So once a month, every month, in 2015, I put together a round-up collage featuring some of the clothing and accessory items that I was wearing the most that particular month. And what you see above is a mega collage of all 12 months of these posts. As you can see, there were a lot of repeats from month to month, which actually makes me happy, as I’ve made a real effort this year to focus on a more minimal wardrobe. You’ll also notice that although I always tend to gravitate toward casual pieces, my clothing got more and more comfort-based as my pregnancy progressed. As I type this in pajama pants and a tunic tee, I can confidently say that I am officially ready to get back into regular clothes!
It’s fun for me to look an entire year of outfits in once place like this, and I hope you guys enjoy it too. If you’re interested in specific clothing pieces and where I got them, you can click on the links above to see each individual month, where links to every item for that month can be found. As of now, I plan to continue this series into 2016 as well. And hopefully once baby is born (any day now you guys, any day) and we’re settled in a bit, there will be some new outfit posts as well.
Once again, Happy New Year! I hope this is your best year yet. xo
Do you remember a few weeks ago when I said my niece, Allison, had signed up to be a dog-sitter on DogVacay? She’s in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, if any of you are looking for a sitter. After a few initial hiccups (one of her dogs had a seizure while she was giving a prospective […]
2016 is finally here, and if you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to help create a better future for our four-legged friends in need, one easy way to help is by sharing the photo of a…
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