Tuesday, November 29, 2016
DOGS DON'T VOTE
I have five roosters. Their names are Tristan, Samm, Teddy, Tessa, and Pete. I had six, but Carlo disappeared. Now that the weather's turned bad I got them a heated water bowl and try to get them in the lion cage every night. That worked when it was 20 degrees and snowing. But with the mild thaw, they've taken back to the trees. They've got me so trained to hear their morning crows, that if I don't hear them in my ear at 5 am I get worried. That's what happened this morning.
It was pouring rain and I had to register my new car "Beth", so I tried to sleep in. Cheeky, used to my deer hunting sched., wasn't having it. He got me up at 7:00. By 8:00 the birds were still on the roost. That seemed a bit unusual. As I poured another cup of coffee I finally saw them fly down. Then I heard manic squawking. WTF? I looked out the window and saw a big pitbull chasing them across the lawn. I ran out in my ratty bathrobe, broom in hand, and chased the dog down the road, as the birds scattered in terror. This started my day and my dealings with local government.
Town of Fallsburg has no listed dog catcher so I called Nancy the Town of Thompson dog catcher. She got right back to me and told me that Joanne was the Town of Fallsburg dog catcher and gave me her number. I called it and a machine told me her box was full. What kind of dog catcher doesn't empty her message box? I was getting pissed. I called the town clerk. She told me to call Joanne. I explained the full box issue and she referred me to the police. Here's an excerpt:
"Is dog catcher a paid position?"
"Yes. You know you have the police?"
"It's a helluva note that a dog catcher doesn't answer a call. What the fuck are you guys running here?"
"Sir. Just keep trying. This is the police. We have no jurisdiction over dogs."
"I know it's the fucking police. The clerk said to call you guys."
"Try your town supervisor- Steve Vigilante."
And this is where government works...or maybe it's just who you know. Steve is a member of the church. So when the pastor is up in arms, goddamn if he doesn't respond in minutes. He tells me he's on it and Joanne will call me. She does and tells me if I catch the dog she'll come get it. So she's actually the dog come getter, not the catcher. I'm freaking out! I'm worried about my roosters and Cheeky and tell her "I hope I don't have to shoot the dog." I'm really just bluffing. I'll never shoot the dog. It's a beautiful dog. But Joanne tells me "You'd be within in your rights. Shoot it if you want." This is small town government at work. Dogs don't vote.
I now have two roosters in the lion cage and no sign of the rest. I'm hoping they are just scattered and will return. I told Steve, I would like to put my name in the running for dog catcher. I don't know if it's an elected position or not, but if it is I'm running. My promise is I'll at least try to catch 'em. So please don't shoot them. Vote Democrat!
Friday, November 25, 2016
A BETTER MAN THAN I
I am not worthy. When I compare myself to the people around me I am always reminded of my shortcomings. I have a quick temper. I'm prone to stew and bitch, moan, groan and complain. Then when all else fails i just shut down and get depressed. In other words I'm a mess, and always have been. My one saving grace is my ability to surround myself with people much more enlightened and level-headed than I, while constantly trying not to alienate them to the degree that they run in the other direction. Over the years i've been pretty good at this. Let me tell you, it helps when you live in my head to have others you can depend on . Then, of course, I have the good fortune to have been born into a wonderful family. My ancestors may have been slave-owning, murdering, Indian scalpers, but the Osterhouts I know are pretty nice people. And one of the best is my little brother Bird (Mupp.) Let me give you an example.
Bird scored a couple of days ago with a nice wide 8 pointer. He'd been in the stand all afternoon, seeing nothing and climbed down about 4:20. There was still shooting light, so he pussy-footed home, scanning the woods for movement. When he hit the wood road he caught sight of a body coming towards him. The buck saw him at the same time, bolted, snorted, wheeled around and stopped about 100 yards away. Bird had one shot and he took it standing up, no rest and dropped the buck in his tracks. The best shot he'd ever made. But this isn't the deer story i want to tell.
Yesterday, Thanksgiving morning, Bird went back in the stand to take a doe. At 6:30 am he caught movement way down in the paddock. He pulled the scope up and saw a couple of does moving through the thick stuff. He saw a large deer and thought maybe it was a buck. All of the sudden he caught sight of another doe coming from a different direction towards his stand. As that deer moved in, the large deer bolted and all he saw was horns coming through the woods. It was a giant 10 point buck with split brow tines, the largest deer he'd ever seen his life. The doe ran behind his stand and the buck stopped 50 yards broadside in the open. Bird tried to steady his nerves, settled the cross-hairs on the buck's vitals, fingered the safety and......never took the shot! You heard me.
He had been explaining to his grandson the rules and regulations of deer hunting all week. "You see Mathew, you are allowed one buck during gun season and as many does as you have permits for. Then in muzzleloader season you can take another buck." These words streaked through his head as he looked at this majestic creature, that a lesser man would already have on the ground. We all try to be legal in the woods. As I get older, I try harder. It's really easy when you don't see any deer. But, I have to admit, if I had shot a decent buck early in the season and was hunting does and a monster stepped in front of me, I don't know if I would have the great fabric of character it would take not to pull that trigger. All of us, Savage, Milawyer, and every supermodel that ever met my brother recognizes his dignified countenance, and respectability. He sets the bar very high for us mere mortals. I'll say it again- I'm not worthy. It will take all the restraint I can muster not to "hunt does" where that giant is roaming. And if my nephew reads this, you better steer clear if you knows what's good for you. Blood only runs so deep.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
JUST FUCKING LOUSY
I have a great life. One of the best things about it is I feel I have the right and complete freedom to bitch about how bad things are going. As you already know, I missed one good buck and wounded another. Since then, the weather turned brutal cold, we had six inches of snow and everywhere I turn there are other hunters in front of me. The wind blew for four days straight and basically ruined the final days of the rut, as even the horny bucks weren't about to venture out in the gale. I haven't seen a buck with the gun in my hands and hardly any does. And how 'bout those Republicans?
When I'm not in the woods, freezing my ass off, seeing nothing, I'm either sleeping, drinking, watching TV or on Facebook. The writing I was doing on my family has ceased for the moment, as I tried to digest just what it was I wanted to say. Following kin through the French and Indian War, murders, hangings and such, takes its toll. I need to masticate this historical mess. So in the meantime I hunt in empty woods and ponder just where we are politically speaking in America. At first look it seems pretty bad. I hear the Republicans when they exclaim; "WE WON! GET OVER IT." They sound like a cross between the Nazis in Vichey France and some old lady in her housecoat who just won the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes. I know you won. But we still live here.
It's depressing and exhilarating all at the same time. I've seen shitty Presidents before. I was in Nixon's draft and avoided Johnson's war, by staying in school. I'm a opportunistic pacifist. If I have the opportunity I won't fight. But if I have to I will. I'm flexible. With Trump it looks like we have to avail ourselves to all avenues to combat his "Fascist Autarky." Like sitting in the woods, absorbing the nothingness, you still must be alert, vigilant, ready for things to change in an instant. This is what it's about. Was that the snap of a twig?
Schooling myself in the hunt, as well as history, it's tough to enjoy the turkey this year, as First Inhabitants are being hosed down in freezing temps., with the same water they are protecting. And this is under Obama. Imagine the response of Team Trump. I use the term "First Inhabitants" on purpose. In my research I came across a big problem in what to call an Indigenous person- Indian? Native American? I thought "Inhabitant" sounded good until I saw the term constantly used to refer to the European settlers in Indian territory. We not only appropriated the land, we used language that essentially negated the humans that actually did inhabit the land for thousands of years prior to our inhabitation. Fraudulent ownership on paper codified our existence and right to be Americans. Sucks huh?
So to all a Happy Thanksgiving. It's been a fucking lousy hunting season. Half of the people in our country elected a racist buffoon as President and it looks like the rut is over. I'm thankful for the opportunity to tell you about it. That's worth fighting for. xx
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
BAD TO WORSE
What with all of my attempts at trying to get the ancestors to cooperate on the page, as I said, I've hardly been in the woods. But facing literary frustration, I finally closed the laptop and started to put my time in. With this moon the roosters who now roost in the front of my house and right outside my loft window, barely shut up all night long. It's driving me nuts. The only good thing is I'm awake before dawn. So I've been getting in the stand early, but sadly have seen little action. That all changed last night.
I was in the orchard stand down at GNJohn's. For most of the afternoon I watched a couple of does munch out in Gilkey''s meadow, oblivious to my presence, hundreds of yards away. My frustration was mounting as the light began to fade. Then I heard some grass crunching in the golden rod. I looked down and there stood a nice buck, moving his way to an opening 30 yards away. Slowly I picked up my bow, and attached the release as I rose from my seat. I drew back, aimed right behind his shoulder and fired. He reared and kicked both legs, as i heard a good "thump." He ran to the edge of the tall grass and turned and looked at me. I felt confident in the shot, nonetheless I nocked another arrow and waited, hoping he would fall. Instead he turned and slowly limped away, disappearing behind the wall of golden rod. I waited to see if he would cut across the open field but I never saw him again.
Bow hunting is tricky. I've learned never to push a hit buck. In 15 minutes it would be too dark to see. So I eased out of the stand and quietly went to look for the arrow. I found half it. Two feet of dry arrow laid in the grass. This was the first sign of things not going as well as i had hoped. I went back to the truck and drove to Rock Hill to get a six pack and batteries for my head lamp. I waited over an hour before returning. I still felt pretty good about the shot, hoping I the arrow had hit the far shoulder and broken off. I was sure he'd be laying in the path. As you can guess by the title he was not.
This morning Savage Lynch and I went out at daybreak to pick up the trail. I had found blood, but not much of it, last night and hoped to get a good trail in the daylight. The opposite was true. It took us an hour or more to get a couple of hundred yards and that was the edge of the Neversink. We waded across the river and as it started to rain we lost the trail. For all you non-hunters, this is the worst possible outcome of hunting. I have nothing to blame this on other than my seemingly increasing inability to hit what I'm aiming at. Two weeks ago I missed a good buck, clean, shooting right underneath him. This deer, I'm afraid, I hit too far forward, sticking him in his shoulder. This is not a kill shot. It would explain the lack of blood and the broken arrow.
All day long I've been sick to my stomach. Once that shot is loosed on an animal you are attached. Of course my depression is nothing to the reality of an injured deer, now lame, possibly unable to escape predators. I tell myself it comes with the territory, but this truism does little to cheer me up. Time will pass and this will be another lesson learned, another failure accepted and dealt with. Hunters understand what I am going through. Vegans probably think I should be stuck with my own arrow and the rest of you either will empathize or think I should just admit I'm lousy shot and give up. It's not like things were going too well to begin with for those of us who loved Leonard Cohen and think Trump has no business being in the White House. I wish giving up was an option. My tears are very real.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
AMERICA- embracing tyranny since 1492
For the past two months I've been lost in the 18th and 17th centuries, investigating the political time period of my ancestors, Richard jennings and Gysbert Oosterhoudt. Uncle Dick was murdered by his nephew and Gysbert was murdered by a friend. Those two historical facts sent me on the chase through ancestry.com and wikipedia hell. I went at it seven days a week, 8 hours or more per day, researching, writing and trying to connect the dots. Deer season was upon us and I'd barely gotten up in a tree. I hadn't seen any friends, or as you know, written a single blog in weeks. I had no more words after all the hanging, scalping and torture.
Two hundred pages later and I feel it is all complete crap. I wish I could give you better news. We all could use a little cheering up, but I'm sorry to say, writing a family history isn't as easy as I thought it would be. I wasn't lacking in characters or events, but what sounds so interesting in, a half paragraph outline of murder, hangings and Indian killing, slips through fingers like slimy fish, as one tries to capture it on the page. I feel like one of those Sunday plein air painters, trying to capture the stormy weather, and birds on the wing.
Add to this the election of Donald Trump, all my despicable relatives' exploits and I'm more than ready to shut the lap top and hit the woods. The one thing it has afforded me is a crash internet course in American history from 1733 to 1846. Both sides of the family were here way before that, but that's my window. The exploitation, demonization and virtual extermination of the first Inhabitants of this country, along with the enslavement, torture, denigration and imprisonment of African American society was formed and perpetuated by the Jennings and the Osterhouts. I learned of my kin owning slaves and most likely scalping Indians, being captured, escaping, fighting, killing, and spreading the empire, like good Americans. Sounds intriguing, right? Well it really isn't. It's pretty fucking disgusting.
Today we have a president whose most infamous tag line is "Grab 'em by the pussy." He doesn't believe in climate change, spouts devisive, white supremacist language, while plating everything in sight with gold. His base, according to the clueless media, is "rural white", the lost tribe, recently discovered in Kentucky by the BBC. These voters haven't been seen since the spinning jenny took their jobs in 1764. It would be laughable if it wasn't so deadly serious. The people who elected Trump aren't some toothless, mouth breathers in pajama bottoms. They are your family, my family. And this is what's so disheartening about history. Goddamnmit if the Osterhouts and the Jennings don't need to shoulder a helluva lot of the blame. I'm crushed. I'm going in the woods.