Friday, November 30, 2007


Trapping's a brutal, nasty business. When I was a kid my grandfather gave me a half dozen muskrat traps and showed me how to set them across the road from my house, along the banks of the Wallkill River. Every morning I got up before dawn, grabbed my baseball bat, and checked my traps before school. I was probably about 12 years old. After a week of this I had yet to trap a muskrat. Then my old man ran into Ray Enright down at the local gas station. Proudly he told Ray about my trapping enterprise. "Yup. The boy has a line down in front of the house , along the 'Kill." That's all it took. The next day all the traps were gone. Secretly I was relieved, and not a little thankful to Ray for pinching my traps. The prospect of bashing a furry little muskrat's brains in before school didn't sit well with me. My career was over.
It wasn't until 2007 that I would set another trap. After trapping my recent assortment of critters, I called Ray Key to get his advice. His first question was "How'd you kill the fox?" I told him I shot him. "You know what you do in the future?" Ray said in that nasal tone of his. "Take a big stick and crack that fox in the nose. Then you step on his backbone and..."
"Whoa! Christ, Ray. I couldn't do that." I said in horror.
Ray giggled. "Well, if you want to waste a bullet and put a big hole in a perfectly good hide." Yeah, I'm a light weight.
The other problem with trapping is it's indescriminate nature. (note:2 red tail hawks, an eagle, two smurfs and a baby unicorn). There's no way to guard against my cat Ray Gilkey or the neighbor's poodle investigating a pile of rotting turkey carcasses. So to guard against this I've moved my sets deeper in the woods and dug what is called a dirt hole set. First you dig a 10 inch hole, slopeing away from the trap at a 60 degree angle. Then drop some lure or bait down the hole, double stake the trap and cover with dirt and leaves. Sprinkle a few drops of fox urine and back away.
After I got the fox, Shewhocannotbenamed came up for a visit. We were laying in bed discussing deer season and my new trapline. She's so accepting of my activities and choice of lifestyle that i constantly have to check myself. Compared to me her life looks like a New Yorker cartoon read by Woody Allen. "So now I'm doing nothing but dirt hole sets." I told her matter of factly. Silence. I looked over at her and there was a real look of horror on her face. "What?'" I asked concerned that I had crossed some line. "Just tell me "dirt hole sex" is not what I'm thinking." Maybe she's not as accepting as I thought.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


When the coyotes got in the goat pen, not only did they wreck havoc on the goats, they scared off the reindeer family my neighbor Carlito had been raising. The female and baby returned, but the stag was long gone. Carlito and his hired hand Frankie took the truck down in the woods and I grabbed my gun and flanked the ridge, hoping to either catch a glimpse of the stag or one of the dogs. I had no idea what I'd do if I saw the reindeer. I knew what to do if I saw the coyotes.
We criss crossed that ridge to no avail. No sign of any critter. Then, when I got home there was a flurry of messages on my phone from GNJohn who had seen the stag down along the river. Thinking it was a big whitetail buck his voice was giddy with excitement. "Where arrrrrre you? There's a monster buck down in my field. IT'S MAGICAL!" Carlito got the truck stuck. Frankie got lost and GNJohn was completely embarassed that he had mistaken the stag for Bambi. The exotic deer had disappeared into the woods.
About a week later I was in my tree stand bow hunting, when I caught sight of something moving down Ray Gilkey's hedgerow. When I saw that big white rack I knew immediately it was the free stag. I pulled the binocs up and put the glasses on the deer's back. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something dark come out of the woods about 400 yards across the field. At first I thought it was a couple of deer, but then realized it was two big coyotes. As if Hollywood had written the script, the pack was following the stag. He saw them also. As I watching the 'yotes the stag nervously crossed the field under my stand. I grunted, but he paid no attention. His reindeer sized penis was dangling and dripping. The whitetail bucks had some competition in the rut. Next year we could be hunting big mutant reintails.
Throughout bow season numerous people caught sight the stag, over by Pleasure Lake, down by the bridge. I checked in with Carlito periodically but he was too busy to care. "If I have to, I'll hunt him during gun season." he told me, showing his frustration in the matter. That's when I started setting traps. It was like having too many mice in the house. Nothing personal. Then, the day before opening day of gun season I saw a yellow cow trailer pull into Carlito's farm. The phone rang. It was Carlito on his cell. "Look out your window." he said. "I am." I said, wondering what new critter would emerge from the trailor. Then I saw those unmistakable horns. "How the fuck did you....?" Carlito was glib. He went on about tracking him, but i knew better. Someone in Bridgeville had spotted the stag under the apple trees and Carlito went over with a hand full of grain and the trailer, with not a day to spare. The next morning the shooting started. Had Carlito not captured him, by lunch that stag would've been headed to Jersey in the back of a minivan. " HONEY, LOOK WHAT I SHOT IN THE CATSKILLS!" That night the coyotes howled in disapproval. Trapping season was on.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Bucks go into rut twice a year; once in early to mid November, The again in late December. If you hunt you get in tune with this and start to reflect the mood. My deer hunting guru Savage Lynch swears by 11/13 as the hottest day. I saw a four and an eight on that day. But I like 11/17. Sometimes this falls, as it did this year, on opening day. It's also my neice Beth's birthday. And we sometimes, as we did this year, celebrate her birthday and opening day rolled into one booze and chili fueled weekend. As per usual, Savage's brother Milawyer was here for the hunt.
Milawyer, who was previously referred to as "a high priced, martini swilling, knife throwing doctor of jurisprudence, from the great state of West Virginia." (google Wray or Vic Voegelin), will now be referred to simply as Savage's brother. And it was he who asked "Aren't you afraid of going to Hell?" I don't think I've ever been asked this question before. Savage, his brother and I, had been drinking and Savage's bro and i had been hitting the bong a bit. But still, his query took me by surprise. I knew he was referencing my rather blatent disregard for 1 or 2 of the 10 co(m)mandments. I admit I have coveted a few neighbor wives. Once I thought about it, I realized i was not afraid of going to Hell. "Love conquers all." I said, and left it at that. Savage and his brother had to agree. Hell may not be that bad. As of now the rut is over and action is scarce. Maybe it's time to concentrate on trapping those coyotes.


Bird and Ray Key

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The next day dawned clear and cold. The Delhi bank clock, right before you make the turn to go to Oneonta, read eighteen degrees. Bird and I were heading for our annual hunt with Ray Key and crew up in Cooperstown. It had been like pulling teeth to get him to come along. He moaned that the drives had gotten shorter and shorter (which they had) and we were seeing less deer (which we were). I wasn't hearing it. I told him that it was the social event to be cherished and I didn't know how many hunts I had left in me....He wasn't biting. But then, after I took him out to White Sulfer Springs with the supermodel, he changed his tune. Guess he figured if nothing less we could use the supermodel story to impress the old timers, and tweak the younger ones.
The other reason I was going to Cooperstown was to get trapping tips from Ray Key. The farm across the road had lost two llama, two emus, two goats and one pet whitetail named Princess to coyotes. I'd decided to trap them, but wasn't having much luck. So far I'd trapped three coons, one opossum, one red fox and two hawks and no coyotes. Ray was more than happy to share his trapping expertise. "You know what you do if you trap a skunk?" he asked. "Shoot him in the head, wait three days, then bury him with his tail sticking out." I answered like the good student. "Drives 'em crazy." Ray said with a knowing nod. Then he gave me a tail skinner, some fox urine, and a nasty skuzz covered scraping knife he found on the floor of the garage where he skins, and stretches all his hides. You wouldn't want to walk through this place with the lights off. But, we're burning daylight. Let's get deer hunting.
Ray, Ted and I were standing and Bird, Davie and Tommy were driving. This was the same drive, where 13 years earlier I had shot and wounded a deer, only to follow it into the lake in a snowstorm and.... but wait this is about this drive- November 25, 2007. I had two little spikes come right up to me and saw a couple more running far off, through the woods. I heard a shot and then nothing. My radio didn't work so I just stood there waiting. Then, after maybe an hour and a half i heard voices, and Ray hollered to come in. When I got to the truck Bird and Ray were in the front seat, grinning ear to ear. "Look in the back." Ray said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. I could see the rack through the dirty glass. A nice eight pointer. As I admired my brother's deer, Ray got out of the truck and went to take a leak. As he fumbled in his heavy clothes, tugging at his zipper, bending his knees and releasing a steaming stream of piss, he grumbled "3 inches of pant and 2 inches of dick. That is one fine deer. You should get it mounted." Then we piled in the trucks and went for lunch, where we told everyone about the supermodel who was putting on drives for us.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Super model Morgane D. lasted about an hour and a half in the cold, windy woods before heading back to the car. "Do you think I have frostbite?" she asked, obviously concerned that those high priced tootsies may be at risk. I assured her that they would warm up eventually and if not.... I had a knife. I'm sure all the way back to the car she was imagining walking the catwalk with stubs. The only deer she saw were three doe who spooked when she left the car to have a smoke. "Their leeeetle furry white butts were soooo cute." she cooed. Maybe it's just as well I didn't blast one and gut it in front of her. One must be careful not to traumatize the client.
Once back at the shack, my brother Bird and I sat around the woodstove, drinking beer with Morgane, telling hunting stories. Not to be out done, she told us of once having to model some crocodile pants for a haute couture show in Paris. "They made them too big and the show was the next day." Bird and I looked at each other, then he asked her what we were both thinking. "Isn't crocodile kinda rough on the skin?"
"Oh, no. They were very soft on the inside." she said, taking anothe sip of beer. How stupid of us. "The problem was," she continued "they couldn't get them to fit right. They ended up making five pairs. And it takes four baby crocodiles to make one pair. " I envisioned one of those French seamstress matrons with a tape around her neck and bifocals going out behind the Christian Lacroix shop to club another croc for Morgane's pants. "That's 20 babys!" she exclaimed, obviously concerned that so much carnage was necessary to show off that perfect ass.
Bird and I nodded and assured her that those lizards were happy to give their lives for such a good cause. Se la vie.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


French visionary Yves Klein was once quoted as saying, "An artist creates one masterpiece...himself constantly." I have always taken that quote to heart. It frees one up from the stagnation and drudgery of being labeled a painter, or musician, or photographer, etc. Art becomes lifestyle. What does an artist do? Basically anything he or she damn well pleases. Contexualization becomes the key. The banality of everyday existence can become fodder for the artist's body of work, or what I find is even more fun and rewarding is to change that banality to include unusual and sometimes exotic activities. So instead of being a producer of art objects, one becomes a collector of activities. Art objects may or may not occur. But in the end the marketplace plays a small, if not nonexistent, role in this type of artist's life. Sure, maybe it could be fun to be the type of artist who travels around the world, creating work for galleries and museums. But, as we all know, that lifestyle is reserved for a very few at the top, or the constantly changing "flavor of the season". In lieu of that, most artists toil at the day job and and create whatever, for themselves and a small community of friends and family.
Choosing to take a path that has led me further and further away from the so called art world initially caused me great concern and not a little amount of soul searching. Was I a quitter? A failure? Lazy? Not good enough? Not smart enough? Not talented enough? Why could I not get a show or a teaching job? Why did my more successful friends dismiss me and my work? Well, as the years ticked by, I was able to answer all these questions and come to a great sense of calm and satisfaction in defining myself as an artist. Why only a couple days ago I was hunting with a long legged Victoria Secret model huddled next to me on a tree, hunched up like a dog shitting razor blades. "I can't feel my feet.' she whispered in her cute French accent, between clenched teeth. "Do you see anything?" she asked, a shiver running down her lithe frame. I shook my head. Ah, the artist's life.