Monday, November 30, 2020

EUROPEAN MOUNT (in progress)



 The report: I haven't seen a shooter buck since bow season. But, I'm still seeing deer- does and small bucks. The same can't be said for my hunting buddies. Savage: Another bout with 24 hour Covid has only added to his misery of not seeing anything. This guy has had the virus more times than I can count. It never puts him down for long. One eye and a persistent case of the bug, he is still the best deer hunter I know.  Milawyer: his idea of deer hunting is to don his well made hunting togs, load his fancy gun, and get in "the office" (the famously comfortable ladder stand) just behind his cabin around 3pm. He's back, drink in hand in his long johns, for 4:45 pm cocktail hour. "I know you like to hunt big bucks," he informs me with not just a little judgement, "but for me it's wonderful just to be in the woods." Seeing deer for him is unnecessary, as he counts bluebirds and whistles a happy tune. He is also seeing nothing--deservedly so. Bird: He hunted hard all the first week of gun, passed on a couple of small bucks and saw a bunch of does. So far the safety has not been clicked off his rifle. He went back to work today. I told him years ago if he wants to shoot big bucks quit that job! UB is seeing nothing on the farm near Little Britain. Because of EHD he's not even hunting. For this farmer and hardcore deer hunter not to take the time off during gun season is unheard of. Disease is a bitch for all us mammaliens. And finally GHPhoto: According to a recent email, he hasn't seen a tail since bow season, when he saw a giant buck crossing the creek. As GHPhoto hunts the Esopus area, a monster could show up at any moment on camera. Even though I invited him to Sullivan County to at least see deer in daylight, he's hanging tough in the high country. More power to him. Those mountains are straight up and down. And the weather? That sucks for all of us.

    Just as I wrote this the satellite internet went out. See what I mean? Pounding rain and sporadic thunderstorms have us all inside today. Unseasonably warm weather has plagued the entire season. Add EHD and Covid to the warm temps and I feel very lucky to have shot Carol Doda. Deer movement is spotty and as my hunting permission seems to be shrinking daily, a big mature buck on the ground looks like an unattainable task. So today I'm making buck's head soup.

 Buck's Head Soup recipe:

   Shoot a good buck. Butcher deer and put meat in freezer. Skin head of buck and remove innards (eyes, tongue, etc.). Put skull in pot of boiling water. Boil for about an hour. Remove skull and let cool. Scrape all meat from skull. Drill 1" hole in back of skull and remove brain. Then place skull (up to antlers) in 1/2 bleach 1/2 water solution. Let remain overnight. Toss soup out the door and make a wish.

    This front is supposed to pass and the weather is going to clear by late morning tomorrow, December 1st. That's the time to be in the woods. 22 more days. I think you can guess what I wished for.        

Saturday, November 28, 2020


 Photo: Richard Kern


 Let me just say, we seem to be winning. All the fears and predictions of blood in the streets have come to naught. Democracy has come out of one of its most challenging time periods in tact and ready to fight the next battle. Trump, in all his glory, has not been able to bring us to our knees. I for one feel relieved and optimistic. Am I being Pollyannish? Probably.  

     I know half the country disagrees with me, but fuck them. They are complete idiots. I'll give you a quick example, One of my pieces is called The Lion of Judah Cage. Recently Pigpen Rothman towed it down to the shul for a fresh exhibition. There I festooned it with  anti-Trump swag and an American flag emblazoned with Black Live Matter. Tonight I noticed the flag was missing. The person or persons that stole my flag offered up in consolation one blue lives matter flag and a Trump 2020 "No More Bullshit" flag......along with an empty beer bottle. How was I to take this?

   Shewho's spin was that some random person was so moved by the BLM flag that they gave up their racist and crackpot flags in exchange for "stealing" my flag. The empty beer bottle was left as 5 cent tribute for the flag. I like this take, as outlandish as it is. In the end-- as most everyone thought the Trumpies would burn the cage down in anger-- it's a minor development. Weeks after the election my art still pisses someone off enough to steal it. I feel vindicated. 

    But  fuck politics, what about deer hunting? There's a spot I never hunt because these old school Italian and Eastern European hunters always occupy it and I don't want to encroach. But this year they are MIA. So I decided to make a move, hoping they don't show up. It's a gray area. I humped in a stand and hung it on a nice edge. I wasn't in the the tree five minutes before I knew it wasn't right. Too tight. I couldn't see shit. So I climbed down and went in search of another tree. I found one. On the way back to my original stand I saw orange. Another hunter was coming towards me. Before I could say anything he stuck out his hand and asked "Mike?" Huh?

    My reputation as a deer hunter and bloggist had preceded me. He was  a neighbor (I'd never met) I'll call Mr. C. He told me he read my blog and when he was home in Jersey (as he was during the week) he enjoyed reading about some guy hunting the same woods he hunted on weekends. I can't get a publishing deal but I can meet a complete stranger in the woods who reads what I write. We chatted for a minute and I told him I was going to move my stand up the ridge and he could hunt the ridge overlooking the swamp. Mr. C agreed and we parted ways amicably.

    At 4:20 I heard a shot I thought to be from Mr. C's gun. After waiting to see if a buck would come through I got down from the tree and went in search of Mr.C. I found him walking in circles in the swamp. "Get him?" I yelled. He shook his head. For the next half hour we looked for blood and found nothing. This is a big part of deer hunting- the miss at the end of a hard week of hunting. Mr. C had been out there from opening day seeing only does and spikes. When he finally had a legal buck in front of him he shot and missed. It's happened to all of us. It's a big part of being a hunter....the failure. Yet. it's easy to spin. That spindly eight will be a helluva buck next year. And Mr. C may just get a bigger one. I just met a nice neighbor and a reader in the woods. That's a good day in anybody's book. Tomorrow? Who knows what will happen.                 

Thursday, November 26, 2020




 Now that we've debunked the Thanksgiving holiday myth, let's get down to the nitty-gritty within the consaguinal family lineage of the Osterhouts' interaction with Native Americans.  The first time a Dutch Van Oosterhoudt moved next door to an Indian was near the Esopus River, just outside the Kingston, NY stockade, sometime around 1653. Six years later the First Esopus war broke out. Did the Osterhouts start that war? Probably.

From Wikipedia: The First Esopus War was a short-lived conflict between Dutch settlers and the Esopus Indians from September 20, 1659 and July 15, 1660. An incident occurred where a group of Dutch settlers opened fire on a group of Esopus around a campfire, who had been celebrating with brandy given as payment for farm work. Esopus reinforcements raided Dutch settlements outside the stockade, destroying crops, killing livestock, and burning buildings. The war party later besieged the walled settlement of Wiltwijck.[4]

The colonists were outnumbered and had little hope of winning through force, but they managed to hold out and make some small attacks, including burning the Indians' fields to starve them out. They received reinforcements from New Amsterdam. The war concluded July 15, 1660, when the Indians agreed to trade land for food. Tensions remained between the Esopus and the settlers, however, eventually leading to the second war.[5]

     Records are spotty, but very possibly Jan Jansen Van Osterhout's first wife Anneken Hendricks, was killed during this war. This started the long history of animosity between the Dutch/American Osterhouts and the Native stewards of the Americas. It's not hidden. 

   Fast forward to the late 18th Century. One branch of the Osterhouts (and only one that I can find) fought with the British during the American Revolution. William Osterhout was an officer with Butler's Rangers a British company made up of Mohawk Indians and Loyalist Tories aligned with the Crown. This branch moved to Scarborough Bluffs, Canada and built the Osterhout Cabin in the 1790's. It's still there. 

    Over the next century these Osterhouts moved west across Canada, ending up in British Colombia. Rev. Dr. Smith Stanley Osterhout, a Methodist missionary and amateur photographer left the most historical information in the family of this time period. Although an early architect of the Residential Indian School System, that is "credited" with Cultural Genocide across Canada, S.S. Osterhout also wrote a short forward to the diary widely accepted as the first Indigenous author to write in English. He was a complex man. The Tsimshian fisherman Arthur Wellington Clah convinced Rev. Osterhout (then a missionary at Port Simpson) to write this: "Memoir of the life of one of Christianity's first converts on the North-west coast. Kept with a view to the production of a history of the same region. See Psalm XC-10. "So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."

    From reading this one would think that Rev. Osterhout was a champion of the Indigenous cause. But, as the 20th Century dawned, Christian missionaries (Osterhout included) were increasingly in lockstep with the Canadian (and U.S.) governments  forcefully enfranchising Natives into citizenship-- giving up all native rights to land--while Anglicanizing the youth into giving up the old ways. Native traditions and beliefs of Potlatch, carving and dance were outlawed, while churches and lumber framed houses replaced the traditional gathering places and ancient iconography. In the end you can't trust an Osterhout (or any European). Stop the propaganda. Just read our history. "...teach us to number our days..."   


Wednesday, November 25, 2020


 Photo: Richard Kern


   Why am I here writing this at 7:32 am instead of sitting in a tree on Nov. 25th? It's not only the human herd that have suffered these past months with disease. Many hunters in the the Orange County deer woods are seeing nothing but grey squirrels and bluejays during long sits in tree stands. The EHD virus hit this county hard in August and September. Farmers were finding deer corpses floating in irrigation ponds and fields, while after one tropical storm dumped a lot of rain, hundreds of rotting deer bodies jammed the dam in Wallkill. It is a tragedy that will take years to recover from. But neither Covid nor EHD is why I don't have my boots on this morning. It's Milawyer.

    This time of year Milawyer blows up from the south like a cloud of EHD spreading midges. His timing was perfect. Carrying a pizza and a good bottle of whiskey, when he first appeared he walked right by the big buck laying in the back of my pickup. But after some pleasantries and a few drinks, he helped me hoist that buck into the tree. The blood he got on his garments and transferred to the creamy interior of his Land Rover was evidence of a visit to my house. Last night I cooked up some backstrap from that buck and Milawyer brought another bottle of Irish. We got down to the real business of deer season- consuming venison, drinking and talking nonstop.

    Any year would be a good year to see Milawyer and have a venison feast. But, as we all know 2020 is different. For his family and mine it is the loss of his mother, the family matriarch, Georgia last week that takes precedent. Georgia didn't die of Covid, but in her 90's, the years naturally caught up with her. The hours after sunset this deer season have been filled with Savage (Milawyer's brother), Milawyer and I raising our glasses filled to the brim in honor of Georgia. My arm is stiff from clinking glasses, my eyes are blurry and my head feels like Cheeky crawled up my nostrils and went to sleep. If I managed to climb a tree this morning only the harness could've kept me from falling out. The deer are safe. A little Irish in my coffee? Why not. Here's to ya Georgia!

    The other reason I wasn't too concerned to miss the morning hunt is because not only are the humans encouraged to go into another Covid lockdown during the holidays, the deer are doing the same. The rut is all but over. If a doe is still in estrus the big bucks have them so tied up in"tending" they can't move. This rapey buck behavior is common the first week of gun season. The first couple of days of the Orange Army traipsing over the hills stirring up the deer woods with gunshots, is always followed by the lockdown. Now you are lucky to see a deer. They don't move unless bumped. I'm not missing much.

   So here's to Georgia....again! She was my mother's best friend, a kind of second mother to all us Ostis. A few weeks back her daughter G. Lee loaded her into Georgia's Mercedes and drove her up the mountain to see the colors of the trees one last time and say goodbye to Paradise Pond. They stopped by the church for a short visit. Georgia and I grabbed each other's hand and didn't let go for ten minutes, as we chatted about nothing but the blue sky and falling, yellow leaves. It was a fitting farewell and a memory I will cherish the rest of my life. 

    The sun is coming out. Maybe this afternoon a good buck will be on his feet. I can dream. My head is beginning to clear. Now, if my hands will only stop shaking. It's still great to be in the woods and always good to see Milawyer, as the lockdown (both deer and human) continues...         

Monday, November 23, 2020




  No Thanksgiving? Boo-fucking- hoo. Any remedial student of history with tell you how fucked up the very idea of a Thanksgiving holiday is in America. The Thanksgiving myth starts with sickness and a massacre, not dinner and a football game. Everybody knows the alternative facts of buckled shoes, Pilgrim hats and smiling Indians. Ha! That's a joke. Just like today, Thanksgiving started with a pandemic:  

From the Internet: 

    The story began in 1614 when a band of English explorers sailed home to  England with a ship full of Patuxet Indians bound for slavery. They left behind smallpox which virtually wiped out those who had escaped.  By the time the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts Bay they found only one living Patuxet Indian, a man named Squanto who had survived slavery in England and knew their language.  He taught them to grow corn and to fish, and negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held a great feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags.

So far so good.

      But as word spread in England about the paradise to be found in the new world, religious zealots called Puritans began arriving by the boat load. Finding no fences around the land, they considered it to be in the public domain. Joined by other British settlers, they seized land, capturing strong young Natives for slaves and killing the rest.  But the Pequot Nation had not agreed to the peace treaty Squanto had negotiated and they fought back. The Pequot War was one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought. 

    In 1637 near present day  Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival which is our Thanksgiving celebration. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside.  Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared “A Day Of Thanksgiving” because 700 unarmed men, women and children had been murdered.

    Ok. That's the first official Thanksgiving myth. The next load of bullshit would come when the 'mericans drove the Brits out of NY. On that day a Revolutionary War soldier from Walden, NY by the name of John Van Arsdale nailed roofing nails through the soles of his boots, and climbed the greased flag pole at the southern tip of Manhattan--still flying the Union Jack-- removed the flag and struck the red, white and blue of "Old Glory," as the British ships (loaded with escaped slaves) sailed for Nova Scotia. This was the second incarnation of the Thanksgiving holiday. 

From Wikipedia:

     Before it was a national holiday, Thanksgiving was proclaimed at various dates by state governors – as early as 1847, New York held Thanksgiving on the same date as Evacuation Day, a convergence happily noted by Walt Whitman, writing in the Brooklyn Eagle. The observance of the date was also diminished by the Thanksgiving Day Proclamation by 16th President Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863, that called on Americans "in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving."[62] That year, Thursday fell on November 26. In later years, Thanksgiving was celebrated on or near the 25th, making Evacuation Day redundant.

  That would make three "official" reasons to give thanks- killing Indians, killing the Brits and killing  those living south of the Mason/Dixon line. So NO THANKS  to Thanksgiving this year. Give the whole bloody mythology a rest. Stay home. Hug your loved one. Get stuffed. Eat turkey or venison. Get high and fuck- Thanksgiving. It's redundant. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020




 From Wikiwand: Carol Ann Doda (August 29, 1937 – November 9, 2015) was a topless dancer in San Francisco, California, who was active from the 1960s through the 1980s. She was the first public topless dancer.[1]

In 1964 Doda made international news, first by dancing topless at the city's Condor Club, then by enhancing her bust from size 34 to 44 through silicone injections. Her breasts became known as Doda's "twin 44s" and "the new Twin Peaks of San Francisco."

   That's the official story. I knew Carol from my time at the other North Beach landmark, The San Francisco Art Institute, as a student in the seventies and later when she was a part time student and I was teaching in the 1990's. I think she liked to draw. 

   Off campus I knew Carol because Karen Finley worked at the Condor as a cocktail waitress, as did my girlfriend Cookie a few years later. She was always friendly and one night my buddy El Prof and I took in the show as Karen served us drinks. The warm up acts to Carol's grand entrance were a motley crew of skinny punk rock couples, doing lazy pantomimes of something that passed for simulated sex. It was obvious their hearts weren't in it. Still, the tourist crowd erupted in approval and Karen was pouring heavy. El Prof and I were having a ball.

   Suddenly the lights dimmed, the disco ball was hit with the spot and from the ceiling descended Carol Doda astride a rhinestone bedazzled, gleaming white, baby grand piano. Cue music. After greeting the crowd warmly she turned to El Prof and I. "You boys having a good time?" We waved and nodded furiously. "Where ya from gents?" she asked in a kittenish voice, spinning her tassles with enough force to power half of North Beach. "OKLAHOMA!" I blurted out, caught up in the moment. She drew her hands six gun style and blasted El Prof and I with finger bullets. "Careful boys. Yer a long way from home." The crowd roared. "Karen. Give these cowboys another round on me." The soon to be seminal performance artist, and fierce feminist voice of the late twentieth century art world brought us another couple of beers and bowed to Carol. What a night!

    A few years later I was living with Cookie. She got the name Cookie because when she wasn't going to college she worked in a cookie store selling Mrs. Field's cookies for minimum wage. I don't remember how or why, but she also ended up as a cocktail waitress at the Condor Club slinging drinks, as night after night Carol descended on her piano.

   I would drive Cookie to North Beach, then go home to the Mission and pick her up after her shift. The Condor had a skeezy manager by the name of Jimmy the Beard.  He was always trying to get Cookie on stage or at the very least sex it up for the customers. "Stick 'em out fer Christsake." he was fond of saying. "You got a great pair. Own em!" Cookie didn't take any shit. She told the Beard "ok." and went about her business. She needed the job, but not that much. Other girls were not as lucky to be able to escape Jimmy's persistent charms. 

     One night after closing Jimmy stayed behind to snort a little coke with one of the dancers. One thing led to another and before you knew it the Beard and the girl were on top of Carol's baby grand, defiling her stage. Maybe it was an accident caused by the booze or the coke, or the desire to take a joy ride on the ascending instrument, in either case the piano started moving with Jimmy now astride the girl. And in the heat of the moment Jimmy the Beard was not paying attention, misjudged the distance between the piano and the ceiling and that was all she wrote. With the dancer safely slid back on the baby grand, Jimmy's head got wedged with such force he was killed instantly, trapping the girl under him. The janitor discovered the hysterical girl sandwiched between Jimmy and the piano when he came in to clean up the next morning. He called the police. 

     Cookie and I knew nothing of the tragedy at the Condor until I took her to work the next day. There was yellow police tape everywhere and the club was closed. Jimmy being the now dead manager, nobody had thought to call the staff, the dancers or Carol and tell them the club was shuttered for now. We had to be told by the police and read it in the newspaper. It was a sad night for North Beach. Cookie quit the Condor the next week. So those are my Carol Doda stories. Carol died on Nov. 9, 2015. I shot that buck on Nov. 15, 2020. R.I.P. to both incarnations. We hardly knew ye.                      

Monday, November 16, 2020


 Photo: Rachel Carrigan


   My naming of bucks depending on the size of their racks continues. Shewho says I'm a Neanderthal. Maybe. That won't stop me. There's that small six-pointer I call Britney Deers and a stubby spike I named Tiffany Stump. But most importantly there's the buck I got a look at the other day, that sports a beautiful, heavy, classic set of eight-pointer horns- Carol Doda. Before I tell you about Carol, here's the story of the hunt for him:

   A few days back I got up in my stand around 1 pm. I wasn't expecting to see any deer that early in the afternoon, but when I turned around there was a doe about 75 yards behind me staring right at me. Then I noticed another doe and a fawn feeding in the thick weeds, winding their way between the bushes, working  down wind. When the hinky lead doe caught my scent she snorted and they all bounded off down the ridge. Fuck. Busted. Then I remembered something Bird had said, putting a positive spin on busting deer, "All that commotion may bring in a curious buck. Heads up." Not five minuted later a big bodied deer appeared in the flat. When he turned I saw a nice rack. I named him after the famous headliner of SF's North Beach Condor Club, Carol Doda.

    Since that afternoon I've been obsessed with hunting Carol. Two days ago I spent 11 hours in the tree stand hoping to get another glimpse of him. I saw 14 does and one buck who I think was Britney Deers. Yesterday I was back in the same stand before daylight. The morning started off promising with a doe and Tiffany coming within range. I'd washed all my clothes and made sure my pits were as scent free as humanly possible. At 11 am I went home and plotted my afternoon sit. With rain predicted and a wind out of the East, I decided to make a bold move and attempt to get closer to where I thought Carol was bedding, and again hunted from the ground.

   At 2pm I was set up in a small pop up ground blind, 100 yards down wind from where I thought that buck was bedding. Around 3:15 I thought I saw a white tail flick on the ridge below me. I pulled up the binocs and saw it was nothing more than broken branch. Absentmindedly I tossed the glasses on the ground and turned to look back out the front of the blind. In the seconds it took to confirm that spot of white was nothing, the buck I had been hunting, Carol Doda, had stepped out 15-20 yards broadside- directly in front of me. I couldn't believe my eyes. He was staring right at me. As I fumbled to find the safety on the crossbow I was certain he would spin and be gone before I could take the shot. But when I looked up he hadn't moved. He looked like a statue, something out of one of those calendars that used to hang in gas stations in the 1950's, a staged shot of a hunter shooting a collaged in buck.

    I didn't even have a chance to get nervous. There was a branch over his vitals, but an open patch a bit high, right behind the shoulder. I settled the top pin and fired. I heard a good thump. I had hit him. He spun and ran like I'd missed, disappearing into the brushy flat. I sat there (now shaking) trying to register what had just happened. Had I just killed Carol Doda? 

    Once I collected myself I cocked the crossbow, gathered my bag and went looking for my arrow. No luck. Then I looked for blood. Nothing. My heart sank as a light rain began falling heavier. Would I need to call Savage? The prospect of a track in the dark or a long sleepless night as the rain washed away the blood trail loomed. Not finding any blood I pussy footed in the direction he ran.......... scanning the woods. Then I saw white belly. I breathed a sigh of relief. He hadn't run 50 yards. The shot was a perfect kill shot, a pass through catching both lungs. I thanked that deer. I thanked the Little Green Man. I thanked Carol Doda. Next time I'll tell you a story about Carol. It's a good one. For now I'm in the glow. Venison for NO THANKS GIVING!           

Friday, November 13, 2020


 Photo:Marianna Rothen


 There's a tradition amongst hunters to name particular big bucks as one tries to kill said animal. I shy away from euphemisms like "harvest." There's no getting around the fact that I spend much of my time from October 1- December 22 attempting to kill one of nature's most wonderful creations- Odocoileus virginianus, better known as the whitetail deer. Usually these attached monikers are names like "Goat" or "Stud" or "Macho Man." I thought I'd switch it up a little and honor women. Seems only right in this post-feminist era of inclusion and new found "girl power." Goldie Fawn has a high, tight, golden colored rack, while Stormy Animal's antlers are wide and heavy. Both are beautiful trophies I'd be more than happy to wrap my hands around. As our ex-President is so fond of saying, "We'll have to see what happens."

   I'm far from vegan but I wasn't always a killer.  In fact after growing up hunting, I stopped hunting entirely from the time I was about 20 until I was around 40. I lived in SF and NYC and had lost the killer instinct, instead concentrating on career and chasing women. The career path led nowhere, but I did finally "catch" that one and only woman. This is what whitetail bucks and the males of the human species seem to have in common. A buck will chase a hot doe until she's too exhausted to resist his advances. It's a metaphor but I think Shewho will admit that over the years I was always the one that was diving head first into the briar thicket after her. "Hello. Who is this? Oh. Yes. I remember you...tonight sounds good."

    For whatever reason when I was in my early forties, married for the second time (not to Shewho), I got back into hunting. Away from the city, the failing career, the pressures of work and the rapidly unraveling marriage, I found refuge and calm in the woods. The first animal I killed (in my second hunter incarnation) was a squirrel. I wanted to see if I still had it in me to take a life. Then I shot another. By the end of the afternoon I had a meal. Squirrel broiled up with a little soy and garlic is surprisingly delicious. If things go south downtown, Tompkin's Square Park with a BB gun would be my first stop. This squirrel hunt was the beginning of my re-education as a hunter.

   Since then (26 years ago) I've never missed a season. I stopped hunting squirrel, instead concentrating on deer and turkey. More meat. Many of my friends don't understand it. The long hours, getting up at dawn in sub-zero weather, the failures, mistakes, bone crushing boredom of seeing nothing seems pointless to them. They'll ooo and ahhhh over my venison, but try to get them to get a hunting license or buy a decent gun and they'll just look blankly and change the subject. I only know one other artist who hunts. George Holz and I are two of the very few in our "profession" who fit this into our "practice." Thank God I have Savage, Bird and UB, a brother and two lifelong friends, to put on deer drives with during muzzle loader season in late December. It's the one social element in a long solitary season.

   So yeah, I'm a killer. I'm a meat eater. People like to paint us all with the wide brush, as flag waving Republicans, gun toting,  pickup truck driving Trumpies. This couldn't be farther from the truth in my neck of the woods. If you read a couple of blogs this becomes apparent. 

    It's just after noon as I write this. This morning I was in the stand at first light, in the rain and saw nothing. The wind is supposed to shift and the sun may come out. This afternoon I'll get back at it. Maybe I'll see Stormy or Goldie, or maybe I'll see nothing. One of these days I'll get a shot. Maybe I'll blow it. Maybe I'll score. Everything can turn on a dime. I can think of a lot worse ways to spend one's working. I feel sorry for you suckers reading this from the office. Wish me luck.


Thursday, November 12, 2020

FREE COCK- Original billboard by the artist Rirkrit advertising "Free Curry" in "Hancock" courtesy Gavin Brown Enterprises



    Let me give you a little history regarding the farm I hunt. It's next to the late Ray Gilkey's place (the original Denniston homestead) and owned by my good friend GNJohn. Most people know it as the old Parker farm. The Parker family owned the Concord, the famous Borscht Belt hotel. John bought it at auction in 2000. Originally it was part of the Denniston family farm. The Irish Dennistons came over to the British colonies in 1729 on the George and Anne chartered by Charles Clinton, bound for Philadelphia. Charles Clinton was the father of General James Clinton (the Sullivan/Clinton Expedition) and NY Province Gov. and Thomas Jefferson VP, George Clinton. He was also the grandfather of NYS Gov. Dewitt Clinton who built the prison at Dannemora and the Erie Canal. Charles Clinton was married to Elizabeth Denniston.

From Wikipedia: According to his papers, he [Clinton] paid for ninety four of the passengers. The captain of the ship intentionally starved the passengers, possibly as a way to steal their belongings. Ninety-six of the passengers died, including Clinton's son and a daughter. In October 1729, they arrived at Cape Cod, and after paying a large ransom for their lives, the survivors were allowed to disembark.

In the spring of 1731, the group moved to Ulster County, New York (now Orange County), where they settled in an area called Little Britain about eight miles from the Hudson River and sixty miles north of New York City.

    Elizabeth Denniston was accompanied by her brother, whose wife died onboard. He remarried another passenger named Little. They had a bunch of kids in Little Britain. One of their grandchildren (William or George) moved to a beautiful piece of river bottom land along the Neversink River. Last night I saw the big buck within yards of the Denniston grave marker.

This morning 7:15 am:

    I was in the tree well before dawn and ready if the buck showed. The wind, out of the Southwest, was perfect if the buck cruised along the expected path he had taken before, coming from the Gilkey's. As I sat in the rain I heard the distinct cackle of a cock pheasant. Something had flushed him and he glided from left to right in front of me and disappeared in the chest high weeds. Within minutes he reappeared in the cut path, heading back where he had come from. I thought nostalgically of all those fall mornings of my youth hunting pheasants with my brother, father and our Irish Setter Duke. I watched as the cock disappeared behind some apple trees and popped out in a little clearing looking right at me at about 75 yards. He squawked again as if to be telling me something. My senses sharpened. Maybe something was spooking him. No sooner had the thought entered my head then I saw legs and the body of a deer. I couldn't see his head, but could tell it was a buck coming down the path along the fence line. As soon as he cleared those apple trees I had him broadside at 40 yards. I waited........ stay calm I told myself..........and waited.......

    Then, my heart sank as that deer winded me, turned and ran back along the fence. I never got a good look at him. Busted AGAIN!

    There's a term called Sympathetic Magic. It's when you try to lure an animal into the kill zone with a piece of it; like rattling in a buck with antlers or calling in a turkey with a call made from a wing bone. I can only assume that pheasant was employing Unsympathetic Magic to that man he saw sitting in the tree. He wasn't informing me of the buck, but cluing the buck in on the danger he faced if he continued on his chosen path towards the weeds. Maybe I should take the shotgun next time. If the legs of that deer that spun and vanished this morning belonged to "my" buck I've had him in front of me six times; and never had a shot. I don't think I've ever had so much frustrating fun in the woods. To be continued......  

Tuesday, November 10, 2020


 Photo: George Holz


 As that steaming turd ex-President Trump spins around in the filthy bowl that is Washington, refusing to go into a sewer clogged with fellow Republican politicians, I try to keep what's really important in focus--getting a bow shot at that big buck. Fuck Trump. Here's the latest:

Day One

    Yesterday I awoke before dawn to sweet butterfly kisses from Cheeky. I reached out in the dark hoping it was the right end of the cat that was delivering those moist little messages on my nose. Thankfully it was. Then the alarm went off. 4:45 am. Even with this unseasonably warm weather, frost covered the fields by the river and the temps were in the 30's. I got in the orchard stand while it was still dark. I was jazzed and hoping for that buck to appear. He didn't.

   At 11:00 I got out of the stand after seeing one doe, a grey squirrel and 'Merica our local bald eagle. I was getting fed up. Well into the rut and the lack of deer movement was putting me in a funk. I decided I needed to switch things up. This year I have a cross bow. The season opened on Saturday. Having a powerful new weapon in the tree (as I see nothing) wasn't helping. So I decided to try hunting from the ground.

    Ground hunting deer with a bow is next to impossible. But a crossbow can be fired easily from a sitting position and will reach out to fifty yards. It was worth a try. So I geared up in my best turkey hunting leafy camo- complete with full face mask- and went up the mountain to a spot Savage used to have a stand. I took along a folding stool and shooting stick. If I could find a good thicket or deadfall it could work. 

    By 2:30 pm I was set up in front of a stump, overlooking a swampy flat with pines and oaks scattered behind me heading down the hill. At 3:00 I head crashing behind me. Between the briars, holding me like a fly in a spider's web and a big pine deadfall blocking my view, it was tough seeing anything and next to impossible turning on the stool. About 75 yards out I saw movement. Before I could reach for the binocs I caught something moving just the other side of the hemlock deadfall behind me. It had horns. This buck was passing ten feet behind me, moving along the full length of the log. All I saw was his antlers- a small six pointer. My heart was beating out of my chest.

   I waited a few minutes for the deer to pass and tried to calm myself. He never spooked. Then I caught the flick of a tail in the spot that first drew my attention. The deer spun and ran down the hill. It was a giant buck!

    Slowly I extracted myself from the briar thicket and found a steady rest for the crossbow on a different log, now facing down the hill. As the afternoon wore on my head was on a swivel, scanning the woods. Nothing. Then, about fifteen minutes before the end of legal shooting time I heard something behind me (the direction I was originally facing). I cranked my neck around and spotted the big buck 30 yards in front of me (now behind me). Slowly I lifted the bow.......he was making a scrape. If I could just.....then the stool tipped slightly in the mud, a twig snapped and he was gone. If I had stayed put in my original position I would have had him. This is why I LOVE deer hunting. No matter how good you get, you'll never figure it out. Finally, I'm in the zone. I can't wait for tomorrow.              

Monday, November 9, 2020


 Photo: Richard Kern


     The term "Reality TV" was misnomer from its inception. Sure the concept built upon early shows like  Ripley's Believe it or Not or Real People, but everyone accepted as the genre grew, that eventually there would be nothing real about reality TV. It was a cheap to produce, easily manipulated and lucrative for all concerned, business/entertainment model. Shows like Cops provided an extra added benefit of White Supremacist propaganda to the "art" form, as pot smoking white college kids got a stern lecture and a crack slinging black teen got 15 to life. Ad revenue went through the roof. Turns out the police state destroying young, black lives is very entertaining in white America. 

   This was the environment that embraced that brash, young NY tabloid huckster "The Donald" when somebody in the Trump organization pitched The Apprentice to Hollywood. I can honestly say that as much as I love trash TV I've never seen it. After living in Manhattan from 1983 to 1995 I was sick to death of Trump. Remember the Central Park Five? That says it all for me. So as the rest of America teethed on this racist asshole I tried to forget him. Then, of course, the last four years happened. There's no forgetting that.

    Just before Trump got elected President I had my own brush with reality TV. I was on a show called Obscurities. They pretended to find a two-headed calf in my church and buy it. It was all fake, a set up. I went along with it, just to be on TV. I'm AN ASSHOLE. It taught me a valuable lesson. Face reality. I wasn't interesting enough to just do an episode on by myself, so I should have passed. They had to juice it up with the two-headed calf. I should never have agreed to that. I'm embarrassed to admit it. In the future I should be more entertaining (or more of an asshole) if I want to be on TV. My one saving grace was that I named the calf "Dick and Bobbie" after my dead parents on the air and they didn't cut it. That should get me something in the afterlife.

   So now, after the lost election, predictably Donald Trump can not face the reality of his very real REALITY. The simple mathematics of a vote count eludes the great businessman.  The overwhelming fact over fiction (finally) scenario is simply too much to grasp for the Donald. Trump has shut down in a fit of denial. He's not budging. Imagine Sunday morning breakfast with Jared, Ivanka, and Melania at the White House. As Barron "plays" with his nieces and nephews"the Jewish kids" the meal is a bit tense. "So how was your golf game yesterday Dad?" Jared asks meekly. Trump stares a hole through him. "Vud you like some more cantaloupe Donald?" Melania asks, smiling. "Daddy, I still LOVE YOU." coos Ivanka. Don Jr. and Eric stew in the background. Eric eats a crayon. Suddenly a scream from one of the "Jewish kids" is heard off in the distance. Melania looks rattled, as if it brings back bad memories from Slovakia. A Secret Service agent goes to investigate. It won't be the last time.

     Who knows where the Trump Show will go from here. I would think the sky's the limit for this brand. Tarnish becomes it. The Saudis have great production facilities and I could see Jared Kushner's Middle East Peace Plan being picked up for another season. "Qatar Airlines presents......" Trump knows he has until January 20th to play this all out. Then, I imagine, it's back to Hollywood or Ryad. Concede? Don't concede? In the end it doesn't matter. We'll have to get on without him and he'll have to get on without us. Forget the traditional library. I'm printing up T-shirts. They're really funny.'re gonna love 'em. They say At Least I didn't Lose the Presidency. Get it? Available alongside the piles of MAGA hats at a Presidential Gift Shop coming soon to a mall near you. The Scott Atlas Corona Virus vaccine- free with every purchase. Keeping it real.                 

Sunday, November 8, 2020


 Photo: Stephan Schacher


    Remember Alice's Restaurant, Arlo Guthrie's 1967 album and subsequent movie? I loved both. Consuming each in my formative years, they were early and big influences on my "practice." One entire side of the album is dedicated to an auto-biographical story poem of Arlo's experience dumping illegal garbage after partying hard at an old church. I liked it so much I memorized it. Although not being able to play guitar I could recite the entire song upon request at a party. Not too many requests were forthcoming. When the movie came out the old church and illegal garbage were front and center in the narrative. Arlo's song and movie had nothing to do with me going to seminary, making art out of garbage or eventually buying an old church. That's all coincidence. Looking back that song and movie were quite prescient. The similarities keep unfolding.

    It's been such a confusing few days I haven't had time to tell you about election night. On the way to Shewho's to watch the results I stopped off at Little Green Militia members Lt. Salty Cuke and his girlfriend Col. Killa J's house for a little recon. Lt. Cuke had just purchased his and her .22 cal. rifles and a nice .243 deer rifle for the revolution. Both of these officers are first time gun owners. That's the kind of little militia it is. Forget "Stand aside and stand by." "Sit down and get loaded." 

     Everybody by now knows how election night went. By Saturday morning it was still going on. I see John King and his fucking "magic wall" in my dreams. So that night, after eating some marijuana candies, a few drinks and a few more drinks, Shewho curled up in the fetal position on the couch and closed her eyes in surrender. We didn't make it to midnight and went to bed resigned to how bleak the future looked; that Trump would remain President. I told Shewho that if Biden won I'd cut my beard. The scraggly mess looked very safe. Z-zzzzzzzzzzzz. 

   In the morning things looked a little better on CNN. Half way through my first cup of coffee Biden was slowly pulling ahead....... when suddenly there was a loud series of knocks on the door. "Who is it?" I asked, a bit annoyed at the volume and frantic insistency of the knocking. "DEC police." came the reply. Ought oh. My mind raced. What had I done? Vandalized a Trump billboard?  Crossed a property line on camera somewhere? Any illegal deer in the truck? NO. I was at a loss. When I opened the door a masked DEC cop asked if I was ----------------? or ....................? two names that were found on receipts buried in a bag of cat shit infested garbage found outside the transfer station. I played dumb. "Huh?......... I....uh......why?......what?........where?" I didn't know whether Shewho had locked herself in the bathroom or escaped out the upstairs window. But before the angry cop (who was certain that I was one of those names in the bags) had a chance to cuff and mace me....Shewho appeared over my shoulder. I ran back to CNN and my coffee. Phew!

    When the DEC cop left I asked Shewho if she had ever seen Alice's Restaurant? She hadn't and was in no mood for my stellar movie review. I told the whole story to Bird and warned him not to tell his wife Ginger. Everybody knows what a gossip Ginger is. Bird can keep a secret and has seen Alice's Restaurant. We were both cracking up. I will always give my love an alibi, never snitch (unless tortured) and would expect no less in return for my crimes and misdemeanors. Plus, my advice is never admit to anything. "Somebody must have stolen my garbage and dumped it just to try to frame me, your honor. I know nothing about it." would have been my bald faced lie in my defense. I hope the judge takes mercy on whoever dumped that garbage. Otherwise I have a cute orange jumpsuit, a stick with a nail in it and a DVD of Alice's Restaurant all wrapped up for Xmas for someone special.


I cut my beard for Biden!

*No animals were harmed in writing this blog. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.      

Thursday, November 5, 2020


 Photo: Samm Kunce


 This is the working title of my new book. How can any publisher resist? Two days into the election and just like in 2016 the mysteriously misunderstood "working white person" is once again being held up as the reason for this nail-biter election. After four years of ineptitude, racism and criminality under the Trump administration, you'd think we'd know them by now. Again, the clueless Dems. are falling all over themselves in apologetic Thursday morning quarterbacking. "We have to listen to them. We have to learn how to talk to them......those.....what do you call them....Johnny Lunch buckets..... " moans  CNN talking head Don Lemon. Well Don that's a very good start towards understanding.

    It's 5:42 am and the past couple of days have been a blur of dribbling election results, disappointment (in and out of the woods), fear, terror, and an overall resolve that America is more fucked up than ever. The palpable nausea is now overwhelming. Even if Biden somehow squeaks out a win, it is obvious we as a people are stuck so deep in our own shit we can't see daylight. The deer hunting hasn't been much better. I keep strategizing on three different shooter bucks and they all seem to have crawled in their holes. The woods are silent. Long hours in the tree are just opportunities to get away from the drip, drip of vote reveals and attempts to stay calm. Thank God I have somewhere to go.

   But back to that illusive white person that after four years of leftist media attention focused on the hovels and hollers of bug fuck nowhere 'merica, NPR and CNN still can't figure those wily white folks  out. Well, let me give you some insight. As my brother Bird (who is way more of a "working" person than I) put it, "The common denominator with Trumpies seems to be racism." This is why a sleazy NY real estate developer/reality TV star/president can communicate with working, white America. It's not jobs, taxes, the pandemic or the health and welfare of their fellow citizens that concerns Trump voters. It's what specific language (habla ENGLISH!) that is spoken by the neighbor and what consaguinal ancestry (white European) produces a particular skin color, that most concerns the Trump voting populace. The sun is coming up. I gotta get in the woods. Six states are too close to call. I'll be back..... 

 10:28 am

   I'm home. At 7:00 am I had the buck I've been hunting walk down a wood road by the river, 60 yards in front of me. He considered coming into my shooting lane and then thought better and continued down the road. Then the wind shifted and he caught my scent and spun. Busted! He was gone. 

At 8:00 am a small 6 pointer came in behind me, stiff legged and wary, then walked away. The bucks are cruising. Things are looking up.

     For those of you who don't know where Shewho and I live here's a small sketch from a London newspaper of Shewho's little village of White Sulphur Springs- We both live in Trump country. I asked Bird how he dealt with all his Trumpie fellow workers on election day? "Nobody mentioned it." he said. That's the only way to get through the day in this neck of the woods. That's the key Don Lemon and all you NPR and Guardian editors- it's not what you say to a white person, rather what you don't say. Need your car worked on, a plumber to fix your pipes, a gun or ammo? All you have to do is zip it and open up your pocket book. I had the recent experience of trying to buy some arrows and being ordered to "Take off that mask." I just remained masked, stared straight ahead and calmly told the Trump fuck what I wanted to buy. Once the checkbook came out he forgot all about his Covid denial. Money speaks almost as loudly as ignorance.

    The one Trump flag I love is the one that says FUCK YOUR FEELINGS! Right back at ya motherfuckers. My advice to the left leaning politicos and the media (as I start to outline this new book) is simple. Those "poor," disenfranchised, misunderstood, dismissed, white people with their $60,000 pick ups, $2,700 AR-15s (with all the bells and whistles), camo and tactical gear are gaslighting you just like their hero Donald Trump. They are not forgotten, overlooked or poor. They are mean spirited, ignorant, narrow minded, greedy and blind to the fact that grandma just died of Covid-19. Now that interest rates are at historic lows, it's time to refinance the speed boat, add onto the double wide and maybe buy a jet ski. Oh, the poor forgotten country bumpkins. We elites just don't understand them. BULLSHIT!

   The media has to realize that the more the pundits opine over their professed ignorance of rural, white America, the more power they give the beast. I went to college in the South, but the most racist white people I ever met lived in upstate NY and had hardly ever interacted with a black person their entire lives. They learned their racism through family and the TV. FOX News recognizes this fact, as do all Republicans. Fear of the "other" (warranted or not) is a great motivator. It's now 11:25 EST and the CNN headline reads: RAZOR THIN MARGIN. I want Biden to win. I do. But either way I'm prepared for the worst. Watch for my new bestseller and wish me luck on that buck. You understand white people way better than you think you do.                 

Monday, November 2, 2020


 Photo:Marianna Rothen


 No matter what happens tomorrow we have to make it until January 20, 2021. As we all have seen Trump can wreak plenty of havoc in a short amount of time. I for one am prepared. Here's some tips for you over educated libtards. 

1. BUYING A GUN and AMMO. You wouldn't think this would be such a foreign thing to do in 'Merica. But recent NPR segments portray just how disconnected the blue team is from firearms ownership. First let's demystify the simple pipe and spring machine that those pink faced, camo clad Trump mouth-breathers love to display. 

    What do you need to build that deck you finally have the time to do under a Covid lockdown? You need tools- a circular saw, screw gun, tape measurer, Sawzall, hammer, etc. Then you need to watch a couple of YouTube tutorials and maybe an old episode of This Old House. A couple of trips to Home Depot and you are good to go. Buying a gun utilizes the same process. First you have to identify the desired purpose of said gun- hunting (different animals require different weaponry), home protection, recreational shooting,  or the possible breakdown of the state leaving everyone on their own.....sort of like we've been experiencing under Federal and public health non-leadership during the pandemic. No help is coming.

    I used to hunt deer with a .243. This is a flat shooting, centerfire rifle. But the bullet is so fast it has a tendency to deflect or even vaporize if a branch is nicked, leaving the deer untouched. Because most of my hunting takes place in the woods I switched to a .30-06. Both of these calibers are good all round first time gun owner choices. In fact .30-06 ammunition is becoming so popular "in these uncertain times" it took me a few stops to find a box of shells. Thankfully the Chinese are stocking the shelves at Walmart. 

   A gun without ammunition is about as lethal as a baseball bat. It will still hurt if you get clocked with one, but your range is limited. Think of it as dynamite without a blasting cap or a car in the bar's parking lot- safe, benign, no threat to man or beast. Add ammo and a loaded gun is as dangerous as that stumbling drunk turning the key in his Chevy after last call. All bets are off. Safety is the most important element of firearm ownership. Sobriety is a close second. NEVER keep a loaded gun in the house.....unless the Tump trucks are circling and you feel the need to stick the barrel out of the shooting portals. Remember that Sawzall you bought at Home Depot? Watch the wiring, but shooting portals are a cinch.

   The Church of the Little Green Militia (the swag is still good) has been forming for some time, behind the scenes. Maybe you noticed some bulges under those choir robes? It started with the inner circle of deacons- Major Mupp and General "one eyed" Savage Lynch- and has spread from there. Membership is confidential. Like burning dollars, I think forming a militia is illegal. But what the hell, we can't gather to sing hymns or sacrifice virgins. A church has to stay viable. If anybody needs help gearing up for the revolution call the CLGM Suicide Prevention Hotline: Get your head out of the oven and leave a message at the beep. BEEP! VOTE BLUE!!!!!!!  


Sunday, November 1, 2020


 Photo: Richard Kern


     Humans (and their weaponry) are at the top of the food chain amongst apex predators. As any hunter knows we are not the only killers in the woods. The past week I've witnessed up close and personal, two fisher cats, a coyote the size of a German Shepard, multiple hawks and eagles, and a curious red fox all within a few yards of my tree stand. It's one the great side benefits of sitting undetected twenty feet up in a tree. We humans are far from alone in the hunt. Given the opportunity, I used to shoot coyotes. I don't anymore. They have as much right as I do to fill their bellies. Let the chicken farmers deal with that. There's plenty of prey to go around. All predators are welcome.

    The month of October has been a switch up. The early weeks, usually quiet and devoid of activity, were filled with buck sightings and the past two weeks have been dead. But slowly that's changing. Two days ago I spotted a nice shooter buck chasing does down by the river and the late afternoon deer movement is picking up. A cold front came through on Saturday dropping snow and the temps are finally cooling off. Signs of the pre-rut are everywhere. Soon the "hot" does coming into estrus will turn a big buck's senses to mush as he worries way more about getting laid then surviving me waiting in the tree. It's all about sex. As we all know that's how everything works.

   This short hunt update brings me to the subject of todays blog: sex in the time of Covid. How the fuck is anybody (not in a steady, stable relationship) getting any? During those first months of the pandemic in the spring and summer, stories abounded of long term relationships crumbling under the pressures of lockdown in shoe box size apartments, or a hot Tinder Date experience mutating into permission to ride out quarantine together. Love at first sight and the little man in the (life) boat has taken on new meaning. But, by now this all is getting really old. More people are on the prowl than ever before. Nine months into this pandemic and I can't imagine being in my twenties (or any age) and hoping to score. How? Where? With whom? Is it worth dying for? Maybe..... Not since AIDS has sex been so intimately linked to death and disease. How's that for a turn on?

   If there's one thing the youth is good at (as I remember) it's disregarding all common sense in order to get a little. This goes for both men and women, no matter who their preferred partner is. A penis and a vagina (or any combination thereof) has a mind of its own. Those body parts may have been initially designed as a clinical delivery and receptor system whose primary purpose was procreation, but once Eve threw caution to the wind and embraced "free will" God washed HIS/HER hands with the lot of us. "I made a nice garden for you with very few rules and you pissed all over them. I see the bite in that apple. Good luck to the both of you fucks. You are on your own" I went to seminary. They teach you that on the first day.

   So I have faith that the kids are having sex- the threat of death or not. It will take way more than a global pandemic to stop the booty action. Masks, nose plugs, gag balls, and full body condoms are flying off the shelves at the re-tooled Bed, Bath and Beyond store in Soho. Capitalism is nothing if not flexible. If FORD can make ventilators......well? Just knock three times on the boarded windows and tell them MO sent you. NO REFUNDS. Business is booming!