Untamed and Primal

Fall                                                Waxing Autumn Moon

Warning:  weak stomachs should not read further.

Kate yelled, but I didn’t hear.  Rigel, let inside after breakfast and a morning’s romp in the woods, came in, lay down on our small oriental rug, and, as dogs sometimes do, threw up.  Gross, I know, but after a while with dogs, many dogs as we have had, this becomes part of the experience.

In this particular case however, it was not eaten grass or clumps of cloth (some dogs love to shred and eat cloth), but most of a recently ingested rabbit:  the head, a hind quarter and much of the softer parts.  Since none of breakfast came up with it, this was a post-breakfast hunt, likely followed by bolting because three other dogs Vega, Kona and Gertie wanted some, too.

Since we have about an acre and a half of woods with many brush piles, which we create intentionally for the purpose of harboring wildlife, our dogs always have hunting options, but we’ve not seem many offerings brought up on the deck in recent times.

Since our dogs are all sight hounds, or at least half sight hound coupled with half coon hound, they come equipped at birth with the instinct to hunt and kill on their own.  We’ve had various levels of skill among our dogs, but some have been exceptional.

Rigel is one.  Sortia, our Russian witch, a female Irish Wolfhound who weighed around 180 and was never fat, was and remains the champ.  She took down a deer by herself during an interlude at the breeders.  She brought us raccoon, ground hog, many rabbits and, to our chagrin, the occasional neighborhood cat who strayed foolishly over our fence.

The whippets are no slouches either.  Kona has killed many a rabbit, one time bringing a very fresh head and dropping it at the kitchen door.

Long ago I slipped over to the Farmer McGregor attitude toward rabbits so I have no problem with our dogs keeping the rabbit supply on the thin side.  They’re protecting our vegetable garden.  I imagine their presence also keeps out deer.

It’s not why we keep dogs, but it is a good side benefit.

All this hunting reminds us, too, that beneath the cheerful, loving persona our beloved dogs show to us, there is still within them an untamed and primal beast, a carnivore not really so far removed from the wolf.

Trappin’

Winter                   Waxing Cold Moon

Got to the stock show at about 7:30 am today.  I was early enough that there was no one checking passes or tickets, exhibitioners had not yet come and there was only one place serving food.  And it hadn’t opened for business.

Reminded me of the trips I used to take to the Indiana State Fair with my mom.  We went by Greyhound Bus because Mom never learned to drive.  That’s strange, isn’t it?  Just resurfaced as I wrote this.  Because of the Greyhound schedule we would get to the State Fair before the crowds.  Clean up crews would still be sweeping up from the night before and stock exhibitors would be getting their animals ready.  It’s a good memory and one I was happy to revisit.

While I admired a badger pelt, the man who trapped it came out and we got to talking.  He explained a host of unintended consequences from such things as eliminating the spring bear hunt and limiting trappers in what they can do.

Colorado’s Dept. of  Wildlife now kills as nuisance bears the same number as bear hunting did.  When the bears were hunted, the populations stayed steady, but with no hunting pressure and the growth of outlying development, bear numbers have skyrocketed. According to this guy, who seemed very balanced. The result is bears forced to forage in urban areas or suburbs because the wild territories have dominant adult animals in them.

In addition, this guy, a trapper who lives in Summit County, where Breckenridge is, said when he began trapping there were few to no raccoons in the whole county because winter was cold and long, eliminating food sources for enough of the year that it was not good habitat for them. Summit raccoons are now abundant, “You should see a mid-winter Breck raccoon, lotsa fur and fat.”

He makes his living trapping nuisance animals, mostly wild animals living high off pet food, garbage dumps and even purposeful feeding.  Animals that, again according  to him, could still be managed by trapping as it was practiced.

I watched Simmental Cattle judging and a junior showmanship event for hogs.  As the place began to fill up, I packed up my purchases, boarded the bus and came back here for a nap.