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Monday, October 18, 2010

Wild west

Our day started much sunnier than expected, and K and I hurried out for our stroll into our favorite aspen grove.
On the way home from the grove where K insistently peeked out from among aspen leaves for photos, she decided to pose on a rock. She prides herself in standing proudly on boulders but I don’t let her do it much these days due to the cast on her leg.
Then, I was lucky enough to get a short time mountain biking with R in the forest. For a black whirlwind, he was mellow today! He moved along side me like we’d been mountain biking buddies forever. And, like his sister, he also insisted on a boulder pose. After he hopped up, I asked him to “stand-stay”. He still does this much better when he has a target, like a boulder, rather than on flat ground.
His training is going beautifully, all except for one pitfall which our vet predicted. He's becoming obsessed with obedience training - it needs to happen at a certain time, in a certain place, and must include certain games. Apparently, this clinging to a pattern is typical for obsessive-compulsive dogs. So, now I need to start varying the time, place, and routine so that I'm not *required* to train him every day in the same way.

After I’d spent time with each half of the Labraduo, I headed out for a mountain bike ride on my own. It stayed sunny for most of the time, and I reveled in aspen trees whose spidery branches reached for the sky. Surrounded by these giants, I felt like I was in a cathedral with a golden ceiling.
I heard a soft breeze rustling the aspen leaves far above my head, and I realized that soft sound would be absent soon - until next spring. I love our quaking aspens.

I was in a section of National Forest that I love because almost no one ever visits it. Alas, today was different. I ran into a belligerent hunter who “ordered” me to get out of her hunting zone. It was not a good interaction, especially when she warned me to try to “stay behind boulders” while I departed… an oblique reference to the possibility of stray bullets flying near me. I hustled away but not before nonchalantly asking a few questions so I'd have information to report to the authorities.

I stewed about her outrageous behavior for the rest of my ride. I called our Division of Wildlife as soon as I arrived home. First, the type of hunting license that she said that she held DOES NOT EXIST. So, immediately, the official and I knew that I’d found a poacher. We discussed what I should do “next time” but there was nothing to be done today.

The worst part of discovering a poacher is that the person holding the loaded rifle holds every iota of power. I can’t be too pushy or confrontational because of the loaded gun. Consequently, the scofflaws seldom get caught. Due to the wild and open land that we still have, it is the "wild west" in some ways.

I must say that I was bemused to discover when I arrived home that the exact type of animal that the poacher had claimed to be hunting had visited my property early this morning and had her photo taken by my wildlife camera.
The cow elk stood still for a minute, with her nostrils flaring. I'm not certain whether both photos were the same elk or not because this camera takes one photo every 30 seconds, and I cannot know what happened in between photos. In any case, it’s much earlier than elk usually arrive in our forest for the winter. I wonder why?
On a lighter note, I’ve continued to play training games with K and she made a funny mistake yesterday. Notice the similarity between the pattern on her “ring” toy and the pattern on her cast in the photo.
I asked K to choose the “ring” from her toys, which meant that I wanted her to grab it in her mouth. She grabbed her cast instead of the ring! I always assumed that shape would play a bigger role than the pattern on the object's cover in helping a dog discriminate among objects. Regardless, it was funny! Maybe K was just trying to make me laugh!


  1. YIKES on the idiot - and enough said about them -

    By any chance, is R a Virgo ;-)

    Mom, Fred, and his eldest daughter spent the weekend in St Marys PA - AKA Elk County - they saw and heard LOTS of them - Fred figures he saw 50 of them Monday AM!

  2. What a scary confrontation with the poacher - horrible. Your aspen pix are so beautiful - ditto pix of K and tale about her taking the cast! The elk cow is gorgeous - wow. We just returned from a camping trip to the eastern sierra and witnessed what appeared to be an escapee from a zoo! What jumped out in front of our car on a lonely high-altitude road was not a deer or sheep or goat... we thought it was an antelope and we were too slow to get a photo. The ranger station said no antelopes were as far south as the Whitney group or Williamson area. We doubt ourselves! Oh dear!
    Hugs from our pawrents xoxoxo,
    Sam and Avalon's Mom and Dad

  3. Poachers are the scariest, most unpredictable creatures we run into in the woods (and rangers will say the same). So unnecessary when legal hunting allows so many options based on the seasons.

  4. I sure hope that poacher is caught and fined! Is it legal to hunt elk or is it that she just didn't have the proper license to be hunting?

    Your pal, Pip

  5. Wow a poacher! That would of ruined my ride too.

    I love the pictures where the dogs pose on a boulder, it is great:)

  6. Where you lives is so beootifuls! Hopefully someday I can visit out deres wif my mom. :)
    Dose poacher peoples is very skeery and sneaky, hopefully dis one will be caught and punished.

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

    PeeS My new cuzin Reggie looks like K, stop by and meets him today!

  7. Running across poachers is pretty scary business. Do you wear bright orange this time of year when you're out? I think I would be!

    Well, that cast and that toy DO look a lot alike! I can see how she could make an honest mistake. It's still funny, though!

  8. I'm a sucker for any book about the history of the West and I've often thought about how some of your human stories sounds waaaay too similar to the characters back in the "Wild West." Makes our city sound very tame! Stay safe out there.

  9. What a frightening experience. Guess the adrenalin and irritation was flowing all day. One thing life has taught us - Don't ever argue with someone with a gun. Why is it they always seem to be ageing schoolyard bullies ?

  10. Fascinating information about obsessive/compulsive dogs. Loved seeing K happily posing on a boulder, even if it was short-lived.

    Horrified by the hunter account and grateful you took the actions you did. Makes me wonder about all the times I've been accosted by "hunters" who accuse me of frightening off their prey. I wish I'd had the sense to investigate as you did. But now I've learned.

  11. Great metaphor for your description of your time among the aspens:) Your writing is as awesome as your photos.

    Dang poacher - bad, bad, but do be careful.

    Good for K, shows she is using her brain in ways one wouldn't expect. Makes time spent together all the more amusing.

  12. Just got home from workie and logged on to see what I am missing!
    We have to walk away from the poachers too,, even though we do not want to. It's sad to see what they are attempting to do sometimes.
    They can be so scary- huh? But, it was the smartest thing for you to do.
    I just love looking at your aspens, and I can hear them as they drift to the ground. Such sadness to see the leaves go away for awhile, but they will return again some day.
    I think K was being silly,, yes, she waited to see if you would laugh, when she grabbed her cast.
    Silly girl!
    Your camera takes some awsome photos, of K and R, and all the splendor that you see.
    And your heart speaks with beautiful words,,, that we can feel.

  13. Be careful in your forest, KB! People with loaded guns do have all the power! I had to laugh at K's discrimination on the training game!


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