Wednesday, October 29, 2008

29. Oktober: Zwei Tag Squirrel Hunt - Tag 2

The plan was, as most of my plans are, painfully simple. Take two days off and hunt like hell for both of them... and about like always, that fell apart mostly due to She Who must be Obeyed. It's also my fault for missing her and the little mini version of her that likes me more than she does.... I decided to head back home on Tuesday night and hunt closer to home on Wednesday. For reasons that I will forgo exploring here, I didn't get out to hunt until nearly 3 in the afternoon on day 2 of the hunt. It was... frustrating. That coupled with a complete strike-out in a new location made it the kind of day to remember, more for lessons and less for stories of hunting success....

Foxtail in the Fading Sun

First, and this is no dig at the hunting areas available in Central Ohio and reflects my preferences, I have never hunted such a flat piece of land in my life. It was not all bad but it turns out my sense of navigation has a lot to do with hills and less to do with direction. (fun for me...) Anyhow after some scouting I was able to find and unoccupied portion of the Deer Creek wildlife area and set to my business.

Sycamore and Sky
After hiking back a bit and finding some well used trails to follow I decided to position between the Oaks I could see up on a small rise and the stream behind me. There was no movement and no noise and I had this odd feeling I was wasting time however, I figured it beat working so...

Then the oddest thing happened. After I found my seat and settled in to wait 30 or 45 minutes to see what showed up, a really nice little 6 point buck sauntered by, totally unaware I was even there. If you look in the picture below you can barely make out his tail between the trees as he heads up that little rise toward some place else. Hmmm.... Maybe that's why it's called Deer Creek. Well, that's par for me isn't it? Always bringing a squirrel rifle to a deer hunt. (Damn IT! and Ah well....)

Buck Tail and Maples... What a day..

After seeing Mr. Buck, I decided it was a worth-while trip and waited another 30 just to see if anything else was going to move. It didn't. Nothing else. Not even a noise. Just the wind, the weeds, and the trees.

I was hunting in a large oval shaped field so I decided to just take a turn around the border in the last couple of hours before dark and see what, if any, sign could be seen. Fortunately a number of good trails were worn in the really tall grasses so it was an easy trip.

Deer Creek

The defining moment for the whole day was under a big walnut tree at the far end of the field. I found a pile of walnuts, uncut and unbothered. Never a good sign when looking for squirrels. After that the wind was just gone from my sails for the pursuit of the tree-devils. Still a good afternoon though. I decided to head in.... back to the car and home to the girls. Always a good end to a day.
The Trail Out

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

28. Oktober: Zwei Tag Squirrel Hunt - Tag 1

As I think I have put forward before, nothing makes time off feel better than having spent a week prior to it having your cubes mashed over and over again by the on-call pager. Such was my week last week. The good news? I get to comp some time this week and these two days are all about the hunting. In this case, the squirrel kind. I am doubly pleased because I am also able to get the updated TUSR out and tested and maybe, just maybe, score a hit or two. The minor mods to the bolt and trigger group as well as a change in all things optical on this rifle seemed to promise a radical improvement.

The Updated TUSR
As expected it did not disappoint. The first shot went off at about 10 minutes before sunrise this morning and was right on the money. A nice, big gray went down with out a second though at nearly 30 yards. The shot was right on target and, even with el cheapo golden bullet ammo, got it done. I was pleased. Squirrel Alley never fails to produce. (most of the time anyway....)

Leaves and Stream in Squirrel Alley

The secondary part of my day and my reason for going was that I had been advised by those who get to hunt more than I do that I was missing out on some quality squirrel woods and, if I had the legs to hike to it, I could have a third and possibly forth spot to use and keep the rotation really fresh. I figured what the he!!, let's walk.

A Single Pine Cone in Field of Cedars

I will have to say that this time, nobody was fibbing. You know, first trips to places where the land marks are unknown and the distances are guess work can sometimes be a little unnerving. I suppose this would have been as well were it not for my compass and all the amazing things I ran into along the way. Of course, there were freaking squirrels everywhere and walking with the first coat of leaves down it was like walking on a snare drum. Needless to say the number of shots I could have actually made given the speed with which I scared them away today was way down so I took very few... and the wind foiled a couple of those. Sneaky tree critters and their moving freaking trees. Wind is cheating... ;-)

A Downed Oak in Field of Bog Timber

There are some more good pics here. Needless to say I am a little bit sore from the extra miles I put in today but the variety and beauty of the places I saw made it worth it. I was in a stand of timber today as old as any I have ever been in and the canopy was just amazing. The deer sign was everywhere and I think I owe a couple of friends a bottle of something for the tip. Exploration, it seems, = Good. Maybe I should go back when the wind isn't howling all around and I can nab a few of these critters.

Not sure what it is but it makes a nice picture...

The field I was looking for...

The field pictured here was the first destination. Find this and hunt the north west side of it and then on west until the big stuff ends. The turn north and up the ridge... What a day. Can't wait until tomorrow. Day 2 awaits and, with any luck, has a lot more sitting and a bit less moving... JP's legs are getting sorrer by the minute here. Old age sucks.

The Perfect Fall Sky

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Sky and Fall Leaves - Workout for the New Camera

We'll make a return to hunting and shooting at end of next week when my on-call ends and I can get out in the wild again for a while. Until then, I decided to give something else a whirl...

Part of who I am is to never pay for warranties. The wife, on the other hand, buys them all... this time she was right. When our beloved, but aged, Cannon PowerShot took a powder about 18 months ago Karen bought a small Sony sure shot to get through the holidays and it worked well.

About a month ago, while cleaning out a filing cabinet, she asked if I had bought a maintenance agreement for the Cannon because she thought she had found a copy of it. Sure enough, I had. The store declined to fix it and it seems the $400 we had in the Cannon buys a whole lot more today... Anyhow, the new Sony (the second one) has Ziess optics and a 15 times optical zoom and 10 or 12 Mega pixels. It just rules. I don't pretend to know what all the buttons do however I was able get it focused and some pictures taken.
Given that have a look here. The girl and I set forth to capture the clear blue sky, the gorgeous leaves of autumn, and the moon if we could find it. Check it out. Photo quality is definitely improved... :-)

I know... Pink Chucks and not really part of the mission but they were just too cute... I will miss the Monkey's pink shoes when she is too cool for them.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Atlas Shruggs a Little - Hedge Funds and Dollars and Living

(DISCLAIMER - This is not a political forum by any stretch. Normally, I am all about the rifles and the baseball and hunting and the family but I think it may be time to start speaking up a bit. Amendment #1 implies that this our our responsibility and I think it may be the duty of everyone who is being scarred by the times we are living in to stop talking about the small problems and get really busy talking about the big ones. Having said that I present this and while I may not share the opinion found in the details here, I love the idea behind the message.)

Who is John Galt? I have an idea about this today...

I know very little about hedge funds. I know even less about Andrew Lahde. What I do have in terms of information is that he ran a hedge fund and, under his guidance, " ... his one-year-old fund returned 866 percent betting against the subprime collapse." (whatever that last part means...) However you sort it out, for every dollar this dude was given to manage he returned 866 back to the folks who paid him to do so. I could use a guy like this....

I find it more than a little refreshing that, given a clear indicator of both ability and drive such as this, dude has chosen to call it quits and that to do so he sent the following communication:

Today I write not to gloat. Given the pain that nearly everyone is experiencing, that would be entirely inappropriate. Nor am I writing to make further predictions, as most of my forecasts in previous letters have unfolded or are in the process of unfolding. Instead, I am writing to say goodbye.

Recently, on the front page of Section C of the Wall Street Journal, a hedge fund manager who was also closing up shop (a $300 million fund), was quoted as saying, "What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate it." I could not agree more with that statement. I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.
There are far too many people for me to sincerely thank for my success. However, I do not want to sound like a Hollywood actor accepting an award. The money was reward enough. Furthermore, the endless list those deserving thanks know who they are.

I will no longer manage money for other people or institutions. I have enough of my own wealth to manage. Some people, who think they have arrived at a reasonable estimate of my net worth, might be surprised that I would call it quits with such a small war chest. That is fine; I am content with my rewards. Moreover, I will let others try to amass nine, ten or eleven figure net worths. Meanwhile, their lives suck. Appointments back to back, booked solid for the next three months, they look forward to their two week vacation in January during which they will likely be glued to their Blackberries or other such devices. What is the point? They will all be forgotten in fifty years anyway. Steve Balmer, Steven Cohen, and Larry Ellison will all be forgotten. I do not understand the legacy thing. Nearly everyone will be forgotten. Give up on leaving your mark. Throw the Blackberry away and enjoy life.

So this is it. With all due respect, I am dropping out. Please do not expect any type of reply to emails or voicemails within normal time frames or at all. Andy Springer and his company will be handling the dissolution of the fund. And don't worry about my employees, they were always employed by Mr. Springer's company and only one (who has been well-rewarded) will lose his job.

I have no interest in any deals in which anyone would like me to participate. I truly do not have a strong opinion about any market right now, other than to say that things will continue to get worse for some time, probably years. I am content sitting on the sidelines and waiting. After all, sitting and waiting is how we made money from the subprime debacle. I now have time to repair my health, which was destroyed by the stress I layered onto myself over the past two years, as well as my entire life -- where I had to compete for spaces in universities and graduate schools, jobs and assets under management -- with those who had all the advantages (rich parents) that I did not. May meritocracy be part of a new form of government, which needs to be established.

On the issue of the U.S. Government, I would like to make a modest proposal. First, I point out the obvious flaws, whereby legislation was repeatedly brought forth to Congress over the past eight years, which would have reigned in the predatory lending practices of now mostly defunct institutions. These institutions regularly filled the coffers of both parties in return for voting down all of this legislation designed to protect the common citizen. This is an outrage, yet no one seems to know or care about it. Since Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith passed, I would argue that there has been a dearth of worthy philosophers in this country, at least ones focused on improving government. Capitalism worked for two hundred years, but times change, and systems become corrupt. George Soros, a man of staggering wealth, has stated that he would like to be remembered as a philosopher. My suggestion is that this great man start and sponsor a forum for great minds to come together to create a new system of government that truly represents the common man's interest, while at the same time creating rewards great enough to attract the best and brightest minds to serve in government roles without having to rely on corruption to further their interests or lifestyles. This forum could be similar to the one used to create the operating system, Linux, which competes with Microsoft's near monopoly. I believe there is an answer, but for now the system is clearly broken.

Lastly, while I still have an audience, I would like to bring attention to an alternative food and energy source. You won't see it included in BP's, "Feel good. We are working on sustainable solutions," television commercials, nor is it mentioned in ADM's similar commercials. But hemp has been used for at least 5,000 years for cloth and food, as well as just about everything that is produced from petroleum products. Hemp is not marijuana and vice versa. Hemp is the male plant and it grows like a weed, hence the slang term. The original American flag was made of hemp fiber and our Constitution was printed on paper made of hemp. It was used as recently as World War II by the U.S. Government, and then promptly made illegal after the war was won. At a time when rhetoric is flying about becoming more self-sufficient in terms of energy, why is it illegal to grow this plant in this country? Ah, the female. The evil female plant -- marijuana. It gets you high, it makes you laugh, it does not produce a hangover. Unlike alcohol, it does not result in bar fights or wife beating. So, why is this innocuous plant illegal? Is it a gateway drug? No, that would be alcohol, which is so heavily advertised in this country. My only conclusion as to why it is illegal, is that Corporate America, which owns Congress, would rather sell you Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax and other additive drugs, than allow you to grow a plant in your home without some of the profits going into their coffers. This policy is ludicrous. It has surely contributed to our dependency on foreign energy sources. Our policies have other countries literally laughing at our stupidity, most notably Canada, as well as several European nations (both Eastern and Western). You would not know this by paying attention to U.S. media sources though, as they tend not to elaborate on who is laughing at the United States this week. Please people, let's stop the rhetoric and start thinking about how we can truly become self-sufficient.With that I say good-bye and good luck.
All the best, - Andrew Lahde

Perhaps, Atlas is finally shrugging though perhaps not in the way originally envisioned. What if John Galt had been happy just to watch it all burn instead of returning to save and reform society? The picture grows darker...

Monday, October 13, 2008

October 12 - Oh Holy Stuff on a Waffle Cone... Are We Still Deer Hunting?

Plans are big in my world. They let me get the things I know I am sure I want to do, done. The plan for this past weekend and particularly for yesterday was just as good as it gets. A weekend visit to the folks, a Sunday of my own to hunt without the up at 3:45, 2 hour drive to sit still for 10 hours and try not to fall asleep... it was a perfect execution of really solid thinking and planning. And now comes the part that, for lack of better phraseology, we'll call buyers remorse.

I believe I have previously commented that I had a new appreciation of guys that could stand hunt, week on week, during the bow season and to be honest I love sitting in the tree stand. There is no feeling in the world like rocking back and forth 20 or 30 feet up, chilling out and waiting on anything at all with antlers to trot on by. By the same token, however, it has been a long, long time since I was as bored hunting as I was on Sunday this week.

It would be way out of line to make absolute judgements about this sort of activity but I can tell, here and now, this is not a week-in, week-out activity for me. I felt more useless than a day in march when the only thing to do is watch TV. I mean, face it. If you are hunting and wishing you had a book to read or your bank statement handy so you could reconcile it, this is probably not your form or first choice for method.

Having said that, I can establish that I will probably only be taking up the bow on the ground and only when I feel a real twinge of bored with the squirrel thing. This stand thing is not for me. In my mind it very much like tartaric sex except you are not sure who will be or if you have a partner but you just decide to start anyway. Maybe it ends... maybe not. Either way, not the way I am wired. At least not for this sort of thing anyway. Should I happen to bag a killer buck after a full season of stand hunting, I would be forced to wonder what else I had missed just for the chance... not worth it.

On a real up-note, the day was perfect. 80'ish and sunny with a 5 to 10 coming out of the NW. My tree was well chosen and a number of deer passed within visual range but none within shooting range. All were does. The tree stand works really well and I will say, if you're in the market, check out the Summit 180 MAX SS. Very much like a recliner in the trees. Good and bad I guess. (tough not to sleep :-) Anyhow, rock stable and perfectly quiet. I am a fan of gear that works.

So in the end, what do we chalk this up to? Experience. I wanted to deer hunt more and I have and now deer hunting is just not special as it was. I will hold off until gun season and see if the 454 slung to my chest makes things right. If not, well, it is only 7 days and back to my thing.

Lastly, I guess you could say the best part of the plan was to have my girls close by and involved a bit. If you look here you can see the Monkey helping my hang the stand the on Saturday. (Not fun to wrestle the damned thing into place pre-dawn so she came along with me to wrestle the damned thing up in daylight...) She really liked being a few feet up and tree chair. Afterwords we went looking for deer poop and old rocks. Momma fretted about PI but we got lucky and only Daddy found that....

That my girl will come with me to the woods and loves to look for squirrels and bunnies and deer, well... that just makes it about 1000 times better. Can't hunt from a stand and do that....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Frontiersmen: A Narrative by Allan W Eckart

NOTES: This month, we are going to cheat a bit. If you look in my profile you will see this book listed as a favorite... has been for a while. I've just decided it is time for a re-read and I am completely moved to discuss it here.

Also, an observation my wife made a while back seems to be holding true and seems to negate my purpose for this page. I am not able to finish books I don't like. I can't do it. Given that, no review for any book I don't like will ever show up here. Seems a bit... lopsided doesn't it? Ah well. Next month I believe I will list books I tried to read and failed to complete this year. The list is kind of long. should be interesting... Anyhow, on to the book.

I freaking love this book. No two ways about it. Aside from being a really well told and well written story, this book applied historical events and personalities to the places I have seen and been all of my life. Fort Washington, Three Islands in the river by Manchester, Chillicothe... All places I have seen and walked. It adds a bit to my life day to day just to know these things.
This is such a good story and it is well told. Allan Eckart has a solid and well crafted style for recounting events and conversation. The research noted in the book, while it has been called into question in some cases by historians, represents a serious bit of effort and underscores the commitment to a solid telling of the tales of revolutionary American frontier.
So let's get to it then:
  • Readability - 5 of 5 -OK. I am willing to admit that my enjoyment of this story has colored my rankings a bit, however there is just no way to argue that this book is a great read. The words flow well and the structure of the underlying word relationships is right on. Well written, no argument.
  • Subject Matter - 5 of 5 - Oh my, how in the world could a go less than 5 for 5 on this? It's a book and about a trapper and hunter exploring the world around him and being smarter, faster, and just plain more lucky than most of the other guys doing the same thing. And he does a lot of it in Ohio. Uhmm... Woo Hoo!
  • Editing - 4 of 5 - What? 4 of 5? Are you kidding? So, no, not really. This is a pure opinion thing and more than a little knit-picky... however, I am not a fan of the dramatic transition. Specifically in this book I do not like the way key characters are transitioned into the tale at the chapter breaks. Otherwise, this is fabulous work.
  • Did I like the story 5 of 5 - What is there to say? Given the chance to go live it first hand I would be gone with less that 15 seconds of thought. I loved this story.

If you need a good read about what Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and others were like when they actually were battleground states, this is the book for you. The portrayal of all characters and issues is well rounded and well done. All in all, well done.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October 1 - Let the Deer Hunting Begin

To call it foolish to get up one morning a week at about 4:30 and drive a couple of hours to sit in the trees and wait for an animal to come by may just be understating the problem. I mean really... sanity is just out the window until Feb 1 now. Last Saturday, the great state of Ohio ushered in Archery season once again. Having spent part of that day (Saturday, 9/27) and the entire next day doing work things for ungrateful people, I was offered a compensatory day to recoup and I chose to hunt.

Like most days hunting I have to say it just beats the crapolla out of the office thing. Although I am excited about the work I am getting to do these days and the attention it garners, I needed a break. It's been a bumpy few months and I wanted to think about something else. I decided bow work was the thing. It turns out, things remain bumpy in bow hunter land as well.

I was late. It was nearly dawn when I arrived and I knew it would be a challenge to get into position and not spook anything. Imagine my joy to see 20 deer, spread across the lane as I pulled in... and every one without exception, run like hell away from where I hunt. Seems I need to work on car stalking a bit or perhaps next time I will just gun it and put the arrow in later... Anyhow, like I figured it would be given the fun on the driveway, no morning deer were had.

Lunchtime came and I decided to regroup. I stopped in the house and had lunch with Dad and decided to shift spots and be back in place by 12:30 or so. Now, I am not a person who tells absolute truth by solunar tables and other hunting things that border on wives tales, but I have to tell you that today it said activity peeks between two and four and it was right on the money. What I didn't count on was being asleep at the bow about that time... Oh my. At ten minutes after two a deer standing, as God is my witness, 6 feet from me snorted so loud I jumped. I had not heard the group coming close and when she caught me scent... oh my again. It scared the matter out of my backside. I jumped, they jumped, we all jumped. Then they ran. I drew and shot, wounding a perfectly good cedar tree and not even getting close to anything running. So it goes I guess. I am becoming a duffer. (well, sh!t)

And then, to add to the enjoyment of the day, just as I was figuring out that I had been asleep and missed the show, it started to rain and the wind and the pleasant but very wet 50 degrees made me shiver. Time to call it a day. On my way I out I scanned for stand tree for next week. God willing, reading a book will keep me awake. If not I may bring along sister Starbucks as well. Either way, no way deer get to sneak up on me again. Shifty bastards... :-)