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Pre-Season Duck & Quack Prep with Billy G [Radio Interview]

Posted on 30 August 2010 by Cork Graham

Only a few more weeks and a number of duck hunters will be heading out for the start of waterfowl season. At the outset of duck hunting, even the worst duck caller will get shooting. As the weeks go by and the ducks get wise, the numbers go down…

Good calling and understanding duck behavior is what separates mid and late season successful duck hunters from the rest of the pack. Often this is the result of always being on the lookout for good information and practicing calling as much as possible.

If you haven’t picked up your duck call since last season, you better start now to be ready for this season. Get a good CD or DVD and imitate the master on the screen or coming through the speakers to you.

More Repetitions are Best

Some might think the best place to practice is at home. In your car, as long as you can pay attention to your driving as well, is the best place. You’re alone; you don’t have to pay attention to volume and most importantly, especially if you commute to work, is you get regular practice.

Like many activities that require muscle memory, more repetitions and less time is better than less repetitions and more time: ten minutes a day, everyday is much better than one hour once a week.

Get Down

Too many hunters are want to build the biggest blinds on the refuge, especially the beginners. The smart guys, the ones who come back with stringers full of mallards and sprig are those who know how to take their profile down as low to the ground as possible.

For years I used to drag out a major coffin blind that used to be manufactured by the Outlaw Decoy company in in Spokane, WA. Sadly they went bankrupt and I could never get another from them.

Gianguinto has a better idea: get one of those cheap kids sleds you can find Walmart and Big 5, just about every sporting goods store that caters to skiers and snow enthusiasts has them. Paint the thing black or olive drab, and you can use it to pull your decoy bag out to the blind, and then you can lay down in it. Put on a camo facemask and you can call with impunity.

You’ll be able to look straight up at the ducks and keep your call directed at them (something Billy and I talk about in the Cork’s Outdoors Radio interview below) and then all you have to do is sit up and shoot—you’ll be amazed at how many more ducks you’ll take this season!

Check Your Dekes

If you get started now you might have time to get your decoys in shape this season. Many have thousands, especially if you hunt a private duck club and put out your own dekes.

Unlike many who’ve told me in the past that more females is better than males, master duck hunter and instructor Billy Gianquinto says it’s better to have more males in your decoy set. From how he describes it in our interview, I’d have to agree: much easier to see that silver-gray off a drake, than the brown camo of a hen’s feathers.

Check out Billy’s Duck Calling Techniques DVD where he and assistant show you proper breath control, how and why to do “changes ups” and variations, and how to best use volume and aggressive calling. http://www.billygducks.com/Products.html

Listen to Billy’s instruction below on a number things that will help improve your duck hunting this coming season: great calling sequences!

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy Billy Gianquinto’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

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THE VEGETARIAN MYTH by Lierre Keith [Book Review/Radio Interview]

Posted on 24 July 2010 by Cork Graham

Few books really get me emotionally anymore, especially non-fiction. But, when I began reading Lierre Keith’s personal account of a strict vegan diet on her body over 20 years I was floored with one question: how in the world?

How in the world could people put themselves through such a lifestyle? How could we have arrived at such a point in our lives that those who profess a close relationship to the Earth, the morally anti-hunting/anti-animal protein driven vegan, are a great part of it’s destruction? How in the world as Western humanity gotten so far away its understanding of how the world works, how life and death are in separable?

Pain

Both Keith and I were born in the same year. That means when we were 16, she started on the vegan diet…and I was beginning to wonder why no matter the amount of high school PE and football and soccer, I couldn’t seem to get into excellent shape, even though both sides of my parental lines were in great shape from their childhood until their mid-30s. And no matter how much cereal I had for breakfast, I was hungry long before lunch, and I could never stay awake in class. The only difference between my parents and me was that my parents had an animal protein-based breakfast.

What Lierre Keith’s diet left her with after 20 years on the diet, was a degenerative bone disease, weak musculature, and nervous system of pain, that presently it can’t even support her for more than 15 minutes of standing. Not to mention all the other effects on a malnutritioned body during its most important growth years. And it was even worse ten years ago, BEFORE she began to see some slight improvements from finally getting the nutrients animal proteins provide all omnivores and carnivores.

The Book

The Vegetarian Myth is divided into three sections and in a very appropriate way. First is the moral philosophy of the vegetarian, then the political and finally the nutritional reasons spouted by the anti-hunting and anti-meat religion…and yes, I call it a religion: it what’s so dastard in how something that was a way of life has become a movement and personal identity…you should have seen the reaction I got from a guest to a party, who considered her book an insult to him personally—as if by her describing the effects of the vegetarian movement and diet actually doing what those who go on the diet are trying to stop: the destruction of the environment….I thought he was going to come at me swinging: and all I did was ask him if he had read her book!

It’s also one of the reasons that so many “dyed in the wool”, and even militant (more on that later) vegetarians will say how much Keith’s book is a fabrication twisting of lies. And how many of these same people say they’ve actually read the book when pushed: almost none!

Vegetarian Hunger Destroying Topsoil

In her thesis, Keith does bring up the fact of loss of topsoil. If you’ve studied the history of Iraq (old Mesopotamia), or other ancient nations bordering the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, you’ll be keen to know why what were lush, tree-covered lands came to be the lands that we see on the news everyday—barren, rocky islands and sand. Their agricultural societies basically tilled the topsoil into the ocean.

Now, this is where it really gets depressing. We’ve been an agricultural society for easily 12,000 years. Our major cultural makeup and politics revolves around agriculture. Most especially, our money and way of doing business revolves around agriculture. The worst examples of it are mega-corporation animal factories with chickens and pigs sitting in cages unable to move, drugged up on antibiotics, cranking out eggs and piglets for market.

If anyone doesn’t think that effects you personally as a consumer, then you’ve never eaten meat from animals that have been properly raised, in a chicken yard, or large pig pen, even left out to graze on other food types other than grain. Previously, I thought grain-feeding livestock was the way to go: more bang for the buck. Yes, more cost effective cash wise, but health wise, I’m not sure. One of the examples I know of is eating meat raised in the US on these factory farms, contrasted to eating steak in places like Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea, where they refuse to raise livestock the way we do in the US, not specifically for the animal’s interest, but more for taste and sustenance—meat is a very precious commodity in those places.

On the bright side, if you’ve tasted free-range beef and chicken here in the US, you know what I’m talking about. If you hunt and tasted the power of venison, elk and bison, you definitely know what I’m talking about. Chickens are omnivores, needing that freedom to throw in a bug, worm, or lizard in with the occasional weekly toss of grain and grazing of wild seeds. Beef, sheep, and pigs are fortified by the calm relaxation of feeding beyond grain, filling up on grasses and whatever attracts their tastes in a pasture. If you don’t think pigs need free-roam, too, then you don’t know how the Spanish make the best prosciutto, called Serrano ham: they let their pigs free to graze on fresh-fallen acorns in September, just before the butchering season.

Keith’s answer to the loss of topsoil could be considered very extreme, basically removing ourselves from an agriculturally based society, and returning to hunter-gatherers. As one who lived in Alaska for a year as hunting-gathering subsistence hunter and angler, let me tell you it’s not easy work. It was a great way to get myself back on track with regards to understanding money, and culture and healthy ways of living. But, practically, if every human being on the planet suddenly became a hunter-gatherer, because the human population is SO massive now, every wild living thing with fins, wings and legs would be decimated within a year, two at the most. Our population has turned us into a major predator; our technology has turned us into THE mega-predator.

The question Keith brings up is whether the present agricultural economy is sustainable. At the present rate of growth of the human population across the planet, especially in places where there’s already a population supported only by imports, like India, Africa and China, it’s not—the wildlife in those places are barely hanging on! The question is whether our agricultural society suddenly implodes within 20 years, somehow struggles for another hundred at its same rate of production and the dramatic effects on the topsoil: and collapses…I’ll leave that part of the thesis to your own mental machinations.

Countering Past Inaccuracies

What I’m most keen about in the solid information provided in The Vegetarian Myth, is that Keith, unlike so many new and old vegetarians, did her homework. She even went past what we’ve been spoon-fed by the government for the last 60 years about food triangle (when you read the history of those studies and how lies can have such longevity, you’ll probably say the same I did—what in the world?): wide and heavy on bread and grains, thin on meats, cheese and fish…even that demonized, but so important cholesterol. Actually there’s a metaphor if you’ve got a weight problem or dealing with hypoglycemia. I know personally from my own prior experiences, as a past believer that nutrition pyramid, when I should have flipped it: more meat and fish, much less bread and grain…but I’ve jumped ahead to the last section of the book.

The Hypoglycemic and Diabetic’s Food Pyramid

The first section on the moral attitudes of the vegetarian is priceless. For those who have studied any type of ancient religions, everything has life and life survives because of the death another living being. Somehow strict vegetarians believe that if it doesn’t have a face or mother it’s somehow not killing: remind of those who fish, but hate hunters? Oh, but fish and lobster have different nervous systems…they don’t feel pain—how in the world do you know?! I stopped flyfishing for entertainment, now when I fish it’s to catch one or two and put them in frying pan, leaving the rest to stay unmolested and healthy, get big, and possibly end up as an enjoyed meal for a bigger fish, after a good life of swimming and eating.

Scientific research has found that plant life also has societies and even reacts to attacks—do you know that the largest living organism on dry land is an aspen grove in Utah? My years apprenticing and training in the Native American healing communities taught me that it’s not whether we kill, we kill by simply stepping blade of grass. It’s whether we do that killing with respect for that which dies. The joke often shared in the community, especially when “the light eye” hippies, and “Wannabe Indians”, searching for meaning to their lives were appalled that the “shaman” actually the proper term “healer” (“shaman” is a Siberian native term), wasn’t a vegetarian—lesson one to the truth seeker: you live because something dies—respect that animal or plant’s death and enjoy your food…say a prayer of thanks, if you’d like!

Vegan Politics

In the second section the author takes on the political component of vegetarianism. This is where she describes how wars and battles for possession of land, and wealth are the results of an agricultural society. Yes, wars have always been fought for religion, food, money and land. She does acquiesce to the fact that hunter-gatherers did fight, also, and definitely for the same reasons of land, except for hunting grounds that provided food, as compared to land for planting that offered food. And there is definitely a much too idealistic view, even naïve attitude that comes across in her writing, and much evidenced in her surprise that militant vegetarians would throw pies at her during an anarchist book fair.

First, she was at an anarchist’s book fair when it happened after all. Secondly, every strict vegetarian, especially one whose personal identity is labeled “Vegetarian” has always had an angry quality about them: either aggressively so, as those who attacked and continue to attack her, and those passive aggressive who get in their little circles, complaining about how horrible the world is how the US Government is the leader in atrocities against the world. It’s all about how the world isn’t how they personally want it to be. Often, they’re also the same kinds of people who spike trees that will send a chainsaw’s broken chain into a logger’s head, a logger who’s just trying to keep his family fed and by doing so also open land for regrowth that enables, young saplings a chance, and an abundance food for deer and other ungulates…These are the same militant vegetarians who come yelling and screaming into hunting areas during hunting season, thinking they’re helping animals.

Did they purchase the hunting licenses and tags that fund all the wildlife areas for not only game species, but also non-game species?

Have they put any money and actual effort toward saving animals, instead of making it look like they’re helping animals?

Remember that the next time you hear the name Wayne Pacelle who also says he has been on a strict vegetarian diet for 20 years—considering all the other lies he spreads, do you think he’s really a strict vegan? When I think of strict vegetarians, I think of flim-flam artists like Pacelle, and most definitely Wiley Brooks (rhymes with Wiley Coyote) and his Breatharian Institute (as he used to say on his website before Keith’s book, about his $1,000,000 his “Immortality Workshop”, “no, that’s not a misprint”) Now he incorporates a diet Coke and McDonald’s quarter-pounder into his scheister sales letter after he was caught publicly enjoying them…there are people out there who actually believe this! No, I wasn’t surprised about the attacks on Lierre Keith by the political vegetarians, and most definitely those at the anarchist book fair.

Her writings on the way the US government, at the behest of major agricultural corporations, is well researched and developed in describing how third world nations are basically enslaved into a diet support almost completely by imports from the United States. And this is where I was lost, even though the research and collection of history is spot on!

The world works in treaties and negotiations, and all of them are based on business. Unlike in the days of old, these days that means corporate negotiations. If we’re lucky, the local populace benefits through democracy and lack of unrest. If we’re not, it means dictatorship and totalitarian rule, and the potential for a mega civil war: something we should recall well from stupid government actions by Nicaragua’s Somoza ruling line and El Salvador’s Juntas.

…It’s Keiths’ proposal that I found so impractical: there is no way humans, unless there’s a major catastrophe that basically takes out 80 percent of the human population, are going to say good bye to the plough and pick up the spear and bow and arrow—you wont have the commerce to support gunpowder production and the bullets.

Personally, I’d love to see every east-west highway raised ten feet above the ground, and every length of fencing in the Midwest be used to not keep in cattle and livestock, but used to surround homes and cities, keeping the wild animals out. In doing so, we’d create a causeway that would redistribute and open up the land so that bison, deer, and elk populations would have their traditional migration routes. I bet you, within 10 years, the herds would be so large you would have to wait a week for each one to pass, as Lewis and Clark observed when the made their way west. A dream. A fantasy. Can you imagine how much healthy, red meat there’d be for everyone? And all the topsoil that has been lost to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico would instead stay and get thicker, rejuvenated by the stomping of the bison’s hooves…never again would the US run the risk of something like the 1930s Great Dustbowl.

Enjoy That Steak

The section of the book that I most enjoyed was the one on nutritional reasons espoused by vegetarians. Not to mention her descriptions of how a strict vegan diet really effects the brain and brain chemistry in a horrifying manner…there’s a reason vegans lose it when they’re on such an unnatural diet (when humans get a number of extra stomachs and eat our food with side-to-side grinding jaw motions of cows and sheep, instead of the present stomachs and teeth closest to the very carnivorous dog we’ve had since the origins of mankind, I’ll become a vegan)—not the least of the reasons is the hypoglycemic reactions to the diet that turns most vegans into cookies and cakes addicts, to get that immediate, yet never sated, mental stimulation of a sugar rush.

After reading that section, I’m never drinking soymilk again…and even though I have a taste for tofu from being raised in Asia, I’ll definitely cut back on the tofu orders at dim-sum. Tofu increases memory loss. If you’ve ever seen how tofu is made you’ll understand partly why…and the part about soy’s phytoestrogens, that has historically made it attractive to sex abstinent, vegetarian monks, was the last straw!

Now, I could go on and on about what’s in the book, but unless I wrote a length of text that would fit into a book as long as The Vegetarian Myth, it wouldn’t do the subject justice. As Keith says there are no meat eating slogans like the vegetarian’s quaint but hollow, “Meat is Murder”. There’re only facts and research, and that time and pages to read, 276 to be exact.

If you know someone even thinking of going on a vegetarian diet, or especially if you know a mother who wants replace her child’s mother’s milk with soy milk, please save them from a lot of grief by getting them a copy of this book!

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy Lierre Keith’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

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Rabbits – Airgun Hunting with James Marchington [DVD Review/Radio Interview]

Posted on 08 July 2010 by Cork Graham

Rabbits reside in the past memories of many as their introduction to hunting. Rabbits remind me of the elation of returning to the US after spending a childhood in South Vietnam and Singapore—where the only ones with guns were government personnel and guerrillas, and most of the hunting happening was of the two-legged variety.

With a 16 gauge Marlin pump handed down to me by my father, who had last used it before he went off to lay down telephone lines across Latin America in the late 1950s, I ventured forth to Arroyo Seco in Los Padres National Forest. As I wasn’t old enough to drive, it meant that it was a family affair and we didn’t get to the forest during the optimum morning times, and left before the best evening times to make it back to the Bay Area before dark.

One day, though, I got lucky. Our dog, that must have been a mix between either a beagle or Spaniel and a terrier, who loved to dig and chase, suddenly got onto a small cottontail that bolted and I shot.

I only hit it with a few pellets, and not knowing how to finish it off with my hands, I simply stepped back and aimed again. Problem was that I didn’t really understand chokes and how I had to walk much further, else turn that small brush cottontail into hamburger.

The experience almost turned me off hunting all together—I still don’t like to hunt small game with a shotgun, but more for not having to pick shot out of my meal. But then the next year, I got a Marlin semi-automatic .22 rifle with a tubular magazine!

Even with the issued open sights, I could drill a rabbit through the head, wasting none of what would become my favorite meal. No more stray pellets puncturing the stomach or gall bladder, tainting the sweet cottontail meat…like chicken but so much tastier. It’s no wonder that my natural progression in adulthood would be back to the rifle that I was a introduced to shooting with in the first place: a pellet gun.

Without all that “bang” that comes with gunpowder, I’ve come to enjoy the silence of hunting with a bow that in the world of rifles is most imitated by an air rifle. It’s really fun shooting a pellet rifle for a number of reasons: the ammo’s cheaper, it’s quieter, there’s an unlimited amount of propellant (we breath it every second) and there’s no smoke preventing you from keeping an eye on the target.

For this reason the airgun was used extensively during the 1600s and 1700s for  hunting. In war, Napoleon saw the major effect of the quiet airgun, un-affected by rain, against his troops, that he had a standing order that all enemy combatants captured with an airgun in possession be executed on the spot.

My Wyoming huntin’ buddies Gerald Gay (l) and James Rivera (c) and bison taken with a .61 cal air rifle

As a fanatic small-game hunter with a taste for large cottontails, I’ve learned the merits of putting a .22 caliber pellet rifle through it paces. While last year was my introduction to the break barrel offerings of Crosman, this year I plan to put their scoped Benjamin Marauder through a number of hunts!

The Marauder, a rifle that uses an air reservoir much like ancient rifles, is similar to the AirArms rifle that airgun aficionado James Marchington uses on his own hunts for rabbits in his homeland of the UK, hunting in England and the Isle of Skye. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of watching his DVD release (I think I’m even the first one to get it in NTSC, instead of PAL).

As Marchington stated in our interview that follows, technology has come a long way: how much easier it is to teach by producing a DVD as compared to publishing a book. And what an entertaining lesson it is in his production: Rabbits — Airgun Hunting With James Marchington!

Through a number of nicely shot scenes, the viewer is taught how to choose an effective pellet rifle, and type of scope to mount. In the field, some of it shot on the beautiful and very rustic Scottish Isle of Skye, Marchington takes the audience through a number of sighting and shooting sessions.

The topics also touch on clothing (which I especially enjoy because he’s not wearing camouflage, but a good hunting tartan) and go in-depth into the skills of stalking and using the terrain to get close to the rabbit. If there’s ever a DVD to get for a child to show them something they can easily go hunting for, which would teach them to hunt just about every other game, this is it!

So much out there is directed toward the adult, and really doesn’t cover the hunting opportunity of rabbits in a way that I’m sure will appeal to the neophyte hunter, young or adult. Those rifles mentioned are definitely “adult” pellet rifles, and Marchington stresses the important of all types of good woodcraft and rifle stewardship.

Marchington makes a great teacher and yet another reason I highly suggest getting a copy to watch with your son or daughter.

As for the hunting in the field (it’s not all about picking equipment and talking about woodcraft), Marchington mounted a Guncam on the rifle so that the viewer can see exactly what the shooter is seeing as he shoots. Very impressives footage and shows how effectively a .22 pellet rifle can dispatch a large rabbit as quickly as a rifle shooting a .22 long rifle cartridge.

To get your copy visit www.marchington.com

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy James Marchington’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

 Topics:

Track 1: James Marchingon talks about his entry in hunting in the Great Britain, and how much stalking rabbits is a great training aid for learning to hunt large game.

Track 2: James Marchington touches on the topics of rabbit game species, air rifle options and new upcoming DVD productions for hunters.

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