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Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Great Leap

This morning, K and I walked into a wet forest with the sounds of rifle shots echoing off the canyon walls nearby. We both wore blaze orange - I looked like the Great Pumpkin while K looked much more stylish in her orange bandanna.
Most years, K quickly gets used to the sound of shots during the deer and elk rifle seasons, and she relaxes. I guess that our walk today was too short to allow her to get used to the reverberating booms reaching us from a distance. She'd look over her shoulder and scan the surroundings after each one.
I am not a hunter, and I once had a dog killed by a gun. Consequently, like K, I get nervous during this season. Our house is an island in a National Forest so, occasionally, people hunt too close for comfort. The vast majority of hunters are responsible and ethical but it takes only one crazy shot to take a dog life or human life. Perhaps K was picking up on my nervousness.
Maybe K would feel more upbeat if she knew that she has only *2* more weeks of a hard cast, and then she can start rehabilitation! We're going to have such fun together when she can walk a little further! I'm already planning the adventures!

After my nervous walk with K, I dressed R in his racing stripes for a mountain bike ride. He wore a full blaze orange vest because he was going to be off-leash. In contrast, K was tied to me, the Great Pumpkin, so she wore only a bandanna. I chose trails to ride where I've never seen a hunter in a decade because it would be too far to haul out a kill. Still, I was very vigilant, watching for fresh boot tracks or other signs of human presence.

We hauled ourselves up to Hug Hill where R modeled his racing stripes with an ominous Continental Divide behind him.
Then, he posed briefly with the Great Pumpkin. That photo shows that my blaze orange jacket has faded over the years - it's time for a new one (but they're very hard to find in my size)!
As we descended, we stopped to play some training games. I believe that it's most important to train R on the trails - where he's often off-leash and good behavior is absolutely required. At the end of the series of recalls, stays, and heeling, we played games on a boulder. I captured a series of photos showing his powerful leap onto the boulder.
To leap, the photos show that he first goes up on his hind legs and then uses those legs alone to propel him into the air. What a beautiful leaper! I think that dogs are stupendous athletes compared to us humans!

After R and I did a relatively short ride, I headed out on my own for some more riding. To my surprise, for 95% of my ride, I saw no one else, not even a hunter. But, at one point near the middle of my ride, I realized that I was following a trail of blood and fur, doubtless from a dead deer being hauled out of the forest. I tried not to focus on it and kept riding.

The clouds over the ridges mesmerized me.
More blood splatters. Keep looking at the mountains, I thought.
I emerged onto a 4wd road that I hate but but it's my only choice for about a half mile of a wonderful loop ride. There, where my singletrack trail met the road, I saw hunters behaving abhorrently. They'd shot a huge beautiful buck, a perfectly legal act. But, they'd tied the gorgeous animal, who was alive and strong a few hours earlier, to the rear of their jeep and were dragging it along the dirt road, tearing off the hide and gouging the meat, while leaving a swath of fur, skin, and blood. This act of disrespect was beyond my ability to comprehend. I literally turned around and went the other way so I wouldn't have to see them for an instant longer.

Just so you know, I believe that most hunters are ethical and respectful. There's one grandfatherly hunter who I see every year during rifle season. In fact, I look forward to running into him because he knows many pearls of wisdom about nature that he imparts to me in our conversations. Moreover, he never forgets about the safety of others in the woods. I'm pretty sure that the vile act that I saw today would have made him as sick as it made me.


  1. That first picture of the clouds coming over the hills is beautiful. I love clouds like that!

    I'm sorry about your bad hunting encounters. After some of your other posts about hunting, I looked up the hunting regulations in my area. We run entirely on national forest land, so I'm sure our regulations are similar to yours. Its strange that I've never seen or heard a hunter in all my time in the forest. The only thing I can think of is that the terrain we run on is sooo steep and the chaparral so thick that you've got to be crazy to try to hunt around our trails. John Muir did call our forest the most uninviting terrain he'd seen. I also don't think we have the same abundance of wildlife.

    All that to say...I'm glad I don't have to worry about hunting season. That would just unnerve me. I'm glad to hear you get to cross paths with hunters with a deep respect and connection to the land. It's too bad they're not all like that.

  2. Beautiful pictures. It must be a bit scary hearing the gunshots. You keep your vest on Ms. K
    Snuggles and Snorts,
    Benny & Lily

  3. Wow! That is a great series of pictures with R leaping!

    You aren't the only blogger nervous about hunters right now. Please stay safe!


  4. I love that series of photos of R's leap, and K looks gorgeous in that orange! I look sick and jaundiced in anything yellow or orange. lol

    My dad has been a hunter most of his life, and he would probably have had quite a bit to say to the men you ran into today. He's always been strict about not wasting anything, and that's what he would have seen them doing. I still laugh about the year he went hunting and knew he had to cut it short to get home for a wedding. Of course he got one just before he had to leave. Realizing he didn't have time to dress it and get it ready to haul home, he took it to the local meat locker and asked to donate it to a local group who fed the homeless. They charged him $100 for processing it to give it away! But, he couldn't bear to see it go to waste, so he paid it.

  5. We loved seeing how R managed to make the leap to the top of that rock - great strength and body control.

    Those gunshots must surely be nerveracking. Please stay safe. And how very disrespectful of those cruel hunters:(

  6. "The clouds over the ridges" photo was very special. R looks like Super Dog in his orange cape!

  7. I realy enjoy reading your posts. You are also a wonderful photographer :-)

  8. KB! The last part of this post has left us with a terrible feeling. Can't imagine coming across that scene. Please please please wear as much bright as you all can! Sounds like there are more than a few irresponsible folks out there. Just was reading Kim's post at Life at Golden Pines... Yikes.

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

  9. Ucghhhh. I don't know how you tolerate the shots and horrific behavior on the part of even one hunter. (Sorry - I'm so intolerant of deer/elk killing, even tho I know the herds have to be thinned out...) You are a testament to educating peoples like me how to live in the wild. Thanks for the wonderful pix of K and R in the wild during hunting season... I love your punkin' outfit!
    Hugs xoxoxo
    Sammie and Avalon
    PS - So cool that your hubby recognized Mt. W.!!! That is pretty good memory!

  10. Our posts today kind of mirror one another--I had an encounter with hunters first thing this morning--What should have been an enjoyable walk, turned into anything but that. Thankfully it turned out 'okay' but I do need to find some vests for my pups if they are going to be out in the woods.

    I hope you and your crew have an enjoyable weekend!

  11. Another post of GREAT pics!!!

    Let's see The Herd top THAT!

    The cloud would have had me too!

  12. I really dislike it when hunters have such little regard for the animals they kill. I can't imagine that kind of disrespect!

    I can imagine R using those powerful hind legs and taking off into flight. Be back later, Mom!

    Jo and Stella

  13. This is very upsetting to read - I can't imagine if I had to witness it.

    Your pal, Pip

  14. Can R leap tall buildings in a single bound - is that the purpose of the cape? I was sickened by your description of the drug deer. What a terrible waste!

  15. Gee am I reading that they were dragging the poor animal as it was alive and tied up?
    It just makes me SICK to think about this.
    Today, I encountered hunters too.
    I hate this season.

    But now let me take a breath and enjoy the beautious clouds as they billowed across the sky.
    And let me look at R , again and again as he leaps so gracefully to the boulder.
    Both K and R look so sharp in their orange colors.

  16. That story hurts. Everything deserves dignity.

  17. R was magnificent in his leap :)

    Orange becomes the three of you :) Very glad you're wearing it with hunters out in the woods.

    Mom says she's okay with responsible hunters but would have needed to tie up those dumb stupid ignorant neanderthalic sick pieces of #@!* to their truck and drug them around til their skin fell off!

    Okay Mom feels better now. Maybe she'd just shoot them and be done with it.

    Stay safe,

  18. the deer that was being dragged was dead before being tied to the Jeep.

    still awful, but not nearly as awful.

    the runner

  19. You have to be sooooo careful in your part of the country. Gun shots are abhorrent to me and because we have a target range nearby we hear the sounds all the time. I guess humans really haven't progressed much.
    At least the orange outfit looks spiffy...I want it!

  20. I'm sure K could sense your unease - they're masters at this. The leaping pic series was wonderful - not only their bodies, but watching the eyes and the determination is awesome!
    I'm sorry your ride ended so poorly- sadly, there seems to be no end to people behaving poorly in nature. Some just can't be respectful. I'm certain this lack of respect extends to most other areas of their lives also. Hopefully the universe will dole out to them proper consequences.

  21. I didn't get to go out during hunting season this year, and you made me kind of glad. I got to see the changing of the colors. I miss the elk rut and the bighorn bonking heads, but experiences such as what you describe (except for the wise old hunter, of course), made me grateful I have no such tales to tell this year.


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