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BIG GAME ARGENTINA by Craig Boddington [Book&DVD Review/Radio Interview]

Posted on 26 March 2010 by Cork Graham

Craig Boddington, and his guide Cano St. Antonin, with a fine red stag taken on the Huemul Peninsula.

Craig Boddington, and his guide, Cano St. Antonin, with a fine red stag taken on the Huemul Peninsula.

Argentina conjures a variety of images for those who’ve never been there. There’re the gauchos, the Pampas, and tango. For the angler there are the monster-sized trout and salmon in rivers that seem untouched because of the stretch of land that fills the borders of the country as well as its meager population that centers around Buenos Aires. For the hunter, there are the photos and images of ducks and big-game that have graced magazines, and as of late, those through the onslaught of 24-hour outdoors satellite programming.

It wasn’t always like this. Yes, there were the trout, back in the 1970s when South American was truly only a blip on the salmonid fanatic’s radar; but when I first saw the images of red deer antlers grace the pages of hunting magazines in the late 70s and early 80s, they were nowhere near the size and impressiveness they are now.

Much of this has to do with how well they’ve managed the herds that were previously left to roam without any real predation-like bluegills in a pond, they quickly overpopulated and their rack size dwindled in response to the lack of food and nutrients.

Because of the new land and wildlife management practices implemented in Argentina during the last 20 years, Argentina is really giving New Zealand’s Utopian red stag hunting a run for the money. Culling the scrawny genetics, and managing for quality instead of quantity, has created a balance between feed and minerals: showing how good management practices benefit not just game animals but non-game peripherals, adding to the grand beauty of the land  and hospitality for which Argentina has always been known.

What better way to cook meat than in a traditional parrillada?

What better way to cook meat than in a traditional parrillada?

Big Game Argentina records the results of this improved bounty for the outdoors enthusiast wanting to travel Argentina and is the latest offering from Gen. Craig Boddington USMC (ret.). An outdoor writer, book author, show host I’ve admired and respected for years, a man who offered me words to live by back in 1994 as an newbie outdoor writer for The Times of San Mateo County, Boddington’s credentials speak for themselves with over 30 years in what is one of the harder and becoming more and more the hardest writing profession to create longevity.

In his book and DVD collection about hunting in Argentina, Big Game Argentina, Boddington and the photographer, Guillermo Zorraquin, deliver a plethora of what’s available in striking detail (what we in the business call “NGC”, National Geographic Color). From the province of Patagonia, north to Chaco and Santiago Del Estero, west to La Pampa and finally east to the province of Buenos Aires, Boddington and the publishers John John Reynal  and Juan Pablo Reynal took on an enviable, yet sobering project that took two years to complete.

In the offering, they delivered what I consider the most informative and beautifully illustrated book in years on Argentina and hunting red stag, white-lipped javelina (peccary), ducks, doves, water buffalo, puma, blackbuck, capybara, brocket deer, and feral sheep, goats and hogs.

Boddington's fine example of a white-lipped peccary

Boddington’s fine example of a white-lipped peccary

In a world in which text is not enough, and as a result traditional printed magazines are going the way of the dinosaurs, and multimedia is king (explaining why Cork’s Outdoors gets 11,000 hits a day) Big Game Argentina is nicely matched with a DVD that fills in the dialogue and action that can’t really be captured in text, and yet video doesn’t try to replace the informative quality of text delivered by Boddington’s honed skills as a writer.

A quick mention of the charcoal artwork by Esteban Diaz Mathé must be made: the work is superb and really adds to the quality of those images not captured in photographs, making the book anyone would be proud to have sitting on their coffee table for friends to enjoy.

Often, many of those traveling think that hunting Argentina only involves staying at estancias and hunting open Pampas. Big Game Argentina lays that stereotype to rest with text and photos covering with dramatic flare the many options of hunting Argentina: like French Alps-like mountains and New Zealand’s Fjordland-like lake and sea area to the south on horseback, or the low brush options further north, reminiscent of eastern Colorado, and the flat brush of Texas, to name a few.

A sampling of the dramatic views the hunting lands of Argentina offer

A sampling of the dramatic views the hunting lands of Argentina offer

As for capturing the adventure and drama a place like Argentina on the DVD, one of the most striking scenes is one in which Boddington, while on stand, waiting for dogs to drive out a collared peccary, sees a brocket deer break from the brushline. Swinging on the brocket with a shotgun, he dramatically takes a nice deer that reminds me of the dik-dik of Africa. In another scene he makes an amazing shot on a capybara, also on a full run. Kudos to the videographer for his skill catching all the action over Boddington’s shoulder.

In contrast to the native species, and aside from the more famous red deer, there are the fallow deer, feral hogs and water buffalo. Raised in Southeast Asia, I was always amazed that the animal I always saw as a child pulling a plow across a rice field had become such a prized game animal in places such as a Australia and Argentina. While the ones from Australia have a much larger sweep and are originally from the wild strain. The ones in South America descend from the farmed water buffalo that were originally brought to what would become Italy by the Ancient Romans, for their milk and the best mozzarella resulting from that water buffalo milk.

Through centuries of genetic selection, much in the same way Herefords are these days chosen over the original Spanish Texas Longhorn as cattle type, the farmed water buffalo has a much smaller horn, with a much less ominous wide curve of its originally wild cousin in Southeast Asia and Australia, which ironically makes it look more African cape buffalo and trophy in its own right in the feral and very wild form covered in Big Game Argentina.

If you’re planning on hunting or even just traveling or Argentina, or prefer the armchair traveler’s voyage to South America, I’d highly recommend adding the book and DVD pairing of Big Game Argentina by Craig Boddington to your collection.

Books are available through www.craigboddington.com

Book and DVD are available through www.patagoniapublishing.com

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

 Topics: Hunting Argentina, helpful advice for neophyte outdoor writers, hunting Africa and Boddington’s two shows broadcast on The Sportman’s Channel and Outdoor Channel, and finally what’s new with Boddington’s writing and adventures in the coming weeks and months.

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Is Hunting Good for Bad Kids?

Posted on 18 February 2010 by Cork Graham

Dr. Randall Eaton

Dr. Randall Eaton

Is hunting good for bad kids? Does it teach violence or does it teach empathy and compassion? Would it be a more peaceful world if more kids grew up hunting?

 These are some of the questions addressed in a recent book entitled From Boys to Men of Heart: Hunting as Rite of Passage.

 The book’s award-winning author is Randall L. Eaton, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist with an international reputation in wildlife conservation who has been studying hunting for 35 years. While producing “The Sacred Hunt” in the mid-1990s, a documentary that received 11 awards, Eaton interviewed scores of recreational and Native American hunters all of whom used the word “respect” to describe how they feel about animals they hunt.

 That prompted Eaton to conduct questionnaire surveys on 2,500 mature hunters who described their attitude toward animals they hunt as, “respect, admiration and reverence.” Over 80% of these recreational hunters claimed they prayed for the animals they killed or gave thanks to God. Eaton’s survey also asked hunters what life event most opened their hearts and engendered compassion in them. Choices included death of a loved one, death of a beloved pet, becoming a parent, teaching young people and taking the life of an animal.

 Women hunters overwhelmingly chose “becoming a parent,” but most of the men chose “taking the life of an animal.”  Eaton said, “These results indicate the basic polarity of human life: woman are adapted to bring life into the world, but men are adapted to take life to support life.”

 The same survey asked respondents to choose those universal virtues they learned from hunting. The top three choices were, “inner peace, patience and humility.”  Eaton believes that inner peace and humility are the foundation of religious and spiritual traditions across time and space.

Eaton insists that hunting is instinctive at least in boys who around the world start throwing rocks between the age of 4 and 5. His survey indicated over 90% of the men spontaneously had killed a small animal before the age of 10, compared to less than 20% of the female hunters. 

“These are the same men who claimed that hunting had done more to open their hearts than any other life experience. Typically the boy cries as 8-year old Jimmy Carter did when he threw a rock and killed a robin. I consider it no mere coincidence that Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela both won the Nobel Peace Prize and both are avid hunters,” Eaton said.

The book interviews Dr. Wade Brackenbury, who for 13 years led groups of delinquent boys into the wilderness for two weeks where they had to survive off what they could forage. Brackenbury is convinced that it was hunting small animals for food that had the greatest transformative influence. Surveys conducted a year later indicated that 85% of the boys had not got into trouble after their survival experience.

A best-selling authority on how to raise boys, Michael Gurian, also is interviewed in Eaton’s book. He agrees that hunting does teach males compassion, and that it would be a more peaceful world if more boys hunted.

The book presents compelling evidence from several disciplines that adolescent males need rites of passage to become responsible adults. Eaton says that the original rite of passage was hunting because it proved a young adult male could provide and qualify for manhood and marriage.

“Without transformative rites of passage that open their hearts and connect them to nature and society males may become destructive and dangerous.  Untempered masculinity is a major factor behind juvenile crime and gangs,” he said. 

Inspired by Eaton’s book, Dr. Karl Milner launched H.E.F.T.Y, Hunter Education for Troubled Youth, in Wyoming where the courts are sending juveniles to his program.The kids are engaged in conservation work on private lands where eventually they will be able to hunt.

Endorsed by the Wyoming Fish and Game Department,  Eaton and Milner expect H.E.F.T.Y. to grow across the continent. “Dr. Eaton and I see the program  helping thousands of wayward youth. It also will encourage more parents to get their kids outdoors,” Milner said.

“Hunting and fishing are good for bad kids because they are good for all kids,” Eaton added.

 To get Eaton’s newest production, “Why Hunting Is Good for Bad Kids,” visit his website at www.randalleaton.com. To learn more about H.E.F.T.Y. visit: www.hefty4kids.org 

For more information contact Dr. Randall Eaton at 513-244-2826 or email reaton@eoni.com. Contact Dr. Karl Milner at 307-299-2084 or email karl@hefty4kids.org

Dr. Randall Eaton will be contributing a number of columns on hunting and its importance in our modern society at Cork’s Outdoors in the coming year…So, stay tuned!

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The River Cottage MEAT Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall [BOOK REVIEW]

Posted on 18 February 2010 by Cork Graham

Spice-rubbed wild boar ready to become Babi Guling!

Spice-rubbed wild boar ready to become Babi Guling!

No matter how you cut it, there is a reason that vegetarians suffer from a number of ailments, not the least of which is a deficiency in vitamin B12: humans have developed over thousands of years to be omnivores, not herbivores! Our diets developed over years of evolution to make sure that humans could survive in any environment, something necessary to a species that evolved as a nomadic group, a group who by necessity has had to survive on an opportunistic diet.

The only species more nomadic than humans are the world’s carnivores. Yet what are the most successful species? Always it’s the omnivores: humans, pigs and bears. These are the most successful populations of any large mammals.

But what’s an omnivore to do when disconnected societal vegetarian fads spring up during every generation, either because of religious or cultural fads inspired by powerful advertising? Get in informed…

Such is the important information I found in the masterpiece The River Cottage MEAT Book by UK food personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall…it was as though someone from PETA, but someone who actually did their research instead of just offering a knee-jerk emotional response to eating meat so far from reality it’s a crime, wrote a book on cooking healthy, following ecologically sound farming practices.

Meat is good, and good for you! But, as the author says, there’s good meat and there’s bad meat. Or, as Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755 -1826), “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”

If you get meat from a meat factory that holds its cattle in boxes that prevent movement and they’ve never even had the opportunity to graze in an open field and under a sky light by sunlight and moonlight, you’re going to get an animal full of body chemicals resulting from stress, not to mention the antibiotics and other manmade materials that bring into question their residual effects in our bodies.

Instead, imagine a cow, pig, or lamb enjoying life in a beautiful pasture, feeding well on all the natural grasses and herbs and brush that bring not only incredible flavor to the animal’s meat, but also bring up a healthy offering for the table that makes you feel so sated and happy when you’re done eating. That (aside from some innovative and interesting spins on more traditional British and international recipes) is what Fearnley-Whittingstall brings to the conversation about eating meat that has long been overdue.

We live in a society in the major cities of the US and UK that is so far removed from its roots in the country, that even adults are shocked to find themselves responding strictly emotionally to become strict vegetarians, and trying to legitimize their decision through questionable science.

If you’ve ever ridden on public transportation in Thailand and India, where meat consumption is very low, and seen natives fast asleep with their heads banging against the window as the bus rattles along, you might have noticed a few of the symptoms of long-term vegetarianism: sluggishness, anemia. And, if only eating vegetables is so good for you why do vegetarians so often need vitamin supplements and why do we no longer have more than one stomach, like so many real herbivores—ever wonder what your appendix used to be?

That’s right! It is used to help us digest foliage, as true vegetarians, when we used to move across the great savannahs of prehistoric Africa.

What happened?

We advanced and learned how to make tools. And by learning to make tools we made weapons for killing to eat meat as a main part of our meals instead of just an infrequent lucky addition.

Our brain size development from what we were as a prehistoric man to what we are now resulted from our more regular consumption of meat proteins. Now, I’m not saying that every meal should have a meat protein, but mixed with a full offering of colors and varieties of vegetables, fruits and nuts and I think you’ll notice a not only a more calming, but reaffirming experience, and definitely less-stressed, daily experience.

Personally, I’ve tried a vegetarian diet. As an effort toward spiritual, mental and physiological cleansing as a form of fasting from meat, seafood and birds, it’s very effective. But any longer than that, have you also noticed how weak and sluggish you feel after the initial cleansing has occurred? That’s your body telling you something!

Meat gives you strength. And when you eat a bit much of beef, it does seem to deliver a bit of an aggressive attitude to a person’s personality. This is an observation that goes to at least as far back as Dickens and Oliver Twist:

‘It’s not Madness, ma’am,’ replied Mr. Bumble, after a few moments of deep meditation. ‘It’s Meat.’

‘What?’ exclaimed Mrs. Sowerberry.

‘Meat, ma’am, meat,’ replied Bumble, with stern emphasis.

‘You’ve over-fed him, ma’am. You’ve raised a artificial soul and spirit in him, ma’am unbecoming a person of his condition: as the board, Mrs. Sowerberry, who are practical philosophers, will tell you. What have paupers to do with soul or spirit? It’s quite enough that we let ’em have live bodies. If you had kept the boy on gruel, ma’am, this would never have happened.’

‘Dear, dear!’ ejaculated Mrs. Sowerberry, piously raising her eyes to the kitchen ceiling: ‘this comes of being liberal!’

Heaven forbid the peasants get fed meat!

I do notice that I too can get a little pointed in my comments and hot under the collar when I’ve eaten beef more than four or five days straight, and not had it as part of a well-balanced meal that includes some grains, vegetables and fruit. I must also add that I’ve never had any type of aggressive response with the other red meat: venison.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall makes a great case that there’s nothing as satisfying as a well-prepared and cooked slab of meat that came from a farm animal living a good life on a farm, instead of a prison-like slaughter yard. And yet, he doesn’t shield the reader for the realities of eating-and why should he? Cellophane-wrapped meat that makes children think that our food comes neat and clean from a machine is why we’re having the drastic disconnect problem we’re in now!

The photos of slaughtering and butchering, which reminded me of police photos I’ve seen of crime scenes and scenes in the city morgue on CSI were a bit shocking…but perhaps because even with my field experiences killing and butchering wild game, even doing something as close farm animal slaughtering as killing a farm-raised goat with .22 and butchering it in a woods glen in Alaska, I’d never done my basic butchering in a slaughter house, i.e., the animal is still whole, in an antiseptic, white-walled room.

Kind of gave me the creeps, seeing that steer’s live eyes as a pneumatic piston gun is put to its head. Then, the next frame is the dead eye as he lies on his side…but, like the vegemite-sundaes like to say, if you can’t deal with the honesty of the death of the animal, can you really condone the eating of meat?

Yes, I accept the honesty of the fact that something died so that I can live. And there’s something contrary, to that which the vegemite-sundaes like to think of selectively: they don’t respect, or really are afraid to accept, that EVERYTHING lives because something dies. Is the only reason that vegetarians condone the killing of vegetables and fruits is that they can’t hear them scream—and who are they to think that all living things don’t feel their death and scream…that it’s only that humans don’t normally speak the language of carrots?

Many aboriginal societies revered and respected that fact that all living things, and in their thinking, inanimate objects are alive, and die and scream when their killing is brought about with little respect: that includes carrots that are just ripped out of the ground without first being asked to offer themselves to the upcoming meal.

Are vegemite-sundaes only vegetarians because they can’t deal with death being a fact of life in all its forms?

I leave that up for you to decide…all I know is that when I’ve dealt with strict vegetarians their avoidance of Nature’s facts are often deplorable: they come off as seeming to think that only the furry and cute creatures on this planet deserve to live, and everything else that can’t be heard to scream, or doesn’t run away when you try to eat it, is okay to eat, in other words, kill.

I don’t have time for vegemite-sundaes because everyone of them comes off as a hypocrite when you really get to know their beliefs and understandings about what the Earth so graciously provides—to them, it’s all about avoidance of that cycle of death that Nature has put all on living creatures….and it seems…nature is the very one to remind vegemite-sundaes that their diet isn’t what we’ve evolved towards over thousands of years of eating meat, with vegetarians setting themselves up for osteoporosis and B12 deficiency, making itself known through the following symptoms: confusion or change in mental status in severe or advanced cases, decreased sense of vibration, diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, numbness and tingling of hands and feet, pallor, shortness of breath, sore mouth and tongue, weakness.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall still seems to offer an olive branch to the PETA folks, though I think anyone who considers themselves a “true” vegetarian will never accept that branch other than to further their agenda, as organizations like PETA and HSUS continue to do right now, saying that they just want to improve conditions for animals, when all their directors just want more money (if you’ve ever dealt with an unscrupulous animal rights ‘non-profit’ you really know where the money and how being ‘non-profit’ doesn’t mean being poor) and to stop all hunting: they’d have all native tribes in cities living on canned vegetarian foods if they had their dithers…

…Yet again they perpetuate what the urbanization of humans has done all along: a total disconnect between humans and our origins…and no, a quick hike through the woods is really as disconnected as the average PETA true believer, stuck in an apartment with their only sense of wildlife a pet cat or their Chihuahua, heavily modified through thousands of years of breeding for Aztec and Mayan dining halls. Hikers in the woods are like sex voyeurs, titillated by what they see, but not willing, and often afraid, to get down and dirty with its realities.

We’ve gotten so far away from what enabled us to survive in a real world that I sometimes wonder if this very modern and violent cult following in PETA/HSUS-related vegetarianism isn’t just a human form of lemmings running off cliffs…

Don’t get me wrong, I respect and enjoy my greens, too—it’s just I have a problem with healthy habits that become fanatic movements trying to keep themselves aloft through unsound science and actions that actually go against their professed reasons: smaller hunter numbers have actually led to lower amounts of revenues that would have gone to the support of all animals through the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 (In contrast, if you want to know where PETA funds really go, READ HERE; they sure aren’t putting those millions of dollars into helping animal populations like hunters do…)

Whenever I come across an author that seems to be more on an even keel, and in the UK no less, the historic origins of the present PETA/HSUS madness, I jump up and down in joy that there might be hope. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is just such a man, who takes the reader through the different options for getting that organic success that leads to a healthy and great-tasting meal with meat as the centerpiece: whether a beef roast, roast chicken, or game collected in the field.

There are a number of game recipes that I’m looking forward to cooking, and will in the future with game he mentions, like pheasant, rabbit and hare. Taking to heart the axiom of using everything the animal offers, the Fearnley-Whittingstall also delivers a great chapter the use of offal gathered from a slaughtered animal. And I’d be remiss in not mention a great dissertation on the practice of aging meat: in his research he really pushed the limits of time! If you live in a warmer/drier climate like I do in California, remember that the variance in temperature, i.e. wamers, will shorten your aging times.

But, it was the roast pig that really got me excited!

…Instead of a traditional roasting spit, beautifully described in a photo story on page 390 and pages 392 to 394 in The River Cottage MEAT Book, I wanted to roast a true organic meat (If it’s been touched by human hands, or fed by humans hands, something that didn’t grow naturally, feeding on whatever it could find on its travels, without human direction or intention, how can you call it true organic?) a wild boar in a La Caja China that I had done a bang-up job with on a farm pig.

Not only that, I wanted to try a recipe I enjoyed as a child in Southeast Asia, on a trip to Indonesia, specifically Bali, called babi guling. Click on the photo of Babi Guling below to watch how we prepared him!

 RELATED LINKS

  1. La Caja China

  2. Blackhawk!

  3. Winchester

  4. Remington

  5. Native Hunt

 

COMING UP

  1. Surmounting the Cultural Conflict of Tactical Clothing and Equipment in the Outdoors

  2. Wild Lifers vs. Game Farmers

 

Click on the Roast Babi Guling to watch how to make it!

Click on the Roast Babi Guling to watch how to make it!

 

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