Last Day of the Season

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Jan 31, 2012 was the a last day of chukar season.  My body welcomes the rest from an arduous and long endeavor of such winged pursuit. Following is what helped make my last day so rewarding.


Thanks Girls


Hunting Under Eagle Wings

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Note: this post was first published on my Nature’s Apprentice blog: on Dec 2, 2011

I made my way far up the hill today. Ok, canyon is the better word here, but I use “hill” for slang,  and perhaps a moronic guides poor humor when putting one foot in front of the other in a heavenly direction.  Heavenly, both in beauty and a treacherously steep-ward ascension, that is.     In a chasm over a mile deep, only half way up is still a serious assault on lungs and legs.  But it was at this point that I noticed the golden eagle making circular passes over rims far above me.  It caught my gaze, as I scanned the slopes for the chukars I thought I  heard earlier.

Pausing with me for a climbing break, my two weimies, Ember and Sugar, also tried to  catch their breath.  Their panting made the same sound as chukars make, when far away.  It is surprising how similar the sound is, even for an experienced ear.  Sometimes a squeaky oarlock makes the same such noise and fools me just the same when cruising the river in search of birds.

But,  between dog pants, I could distinctly hear some chukars. Unfortunately, they were way too far above, than I was willing to continue  high enough to pursue.  Besides, they soon shut up when the shadow of Mr. Eagle poured over the terrain, giving a clue to its menacing presence soaring above in search of them.

It reminded me of eagles I had seen in the past, when I was lucky enough to watch golden’s with their wings tucked in a power dive and in hot pursuit of a panicked chukar squawking and fleeing as fast as its wings would take it.  But not faster than the bird of prey, and soon it was a hard-earned meal  for the eagle.

Another time, I had shot a chukar on a very steep, razor back ridge, and before the chukar hit the ground, a marsh hawk came out of thin air, swooped down and plucked that cart wheeling bird in an aerial retrieve before it hit the ground.  But it was worth my losing a meal, as the price of admission to be so grandly entertained.

Watching eagles has always made me wonder what it would be like to fly like one, so had to take an experienced para-wing experts invitation to go flying one day, years ago.  I only made one flight, but it was as thrilling as I had imagined.  I was ready to run out and buy my own wings, but suddenly realized that reading air currents is much harder than river currents. I can look at river currents directly. Wind can only be seen by watching indicators, which often, are not readily observable. That is when I figured I better stick with the river. But it was a great experience to feel what it is like to be an eagle.

I am thankful that I have been witness to so many cool things in nature. My secret? Time and effort.  The more time you spend out smack in the middle of nature, the more opportunities for you to see great things.

A great youtube to visit, to see good footage of a golden eagle (like the one I saw today) set to some beautiful music:

Eagle’s Flight – Karunesh

Sorry, I haven’t figured out how to put the Youtube video thing on this post.  Techno challenge.

Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.
For river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.comor
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Note: this post was first published on my Nature’s Apprentice blog: on Nov 7, 2011

Funny how the mind works, and what things trigger it into the direction it takes.  But no matter where you go, it always goes with you. Ok, sometimes when high on a cliff side hunting chukar it might seem like you have lost your mind. Especially when you choose to take the more dangerous route rock climbing with all fours to save time, as opposed to the safer, but longer back-tracking route, does craziness begin to register.

But the other day when I was out in the middle of nowhere hunting chukars, I saw a huge spire that had always been visible from the river, but I had never seen before. At least, not until I saw it from a different angle and high advantage  on an opposing hill where it became much more noticeable.  It added to the feeling that I had entered some mysterious fantasy world, where it might even be possible there could exist some sort of  chukar hobbits.. I was inspired. OK, oxygen depleted.

In addition, it added to the wonderful feeling of being far away from civilization where one can still appreciate the value og undiluted purity of air, where it actually pleases the lungs to fill at full capacity. What a great place to escape the woes of our more populous industrial pollutions of the  world.  Or so it seems.

This isolated feeling triggered my mind to go back to a long ago memory of a similar time in another remote region of neighboring canyon country. I was guiding for Grand Canyon Dories, and it was my turn to kick back, while other guides took guests on a hike in Hells Canyon. I chose to enjoy my brief reprieve sitting in my dory boat floating around in a large eddy above Granite Rapids.  It was so cool. Every view was awesome, and bobbing around in the dory made me feel like a much closer part of the river.

Having always been active in fighting for various fish/wildlife/land and water issues over the years had been taking a toll on me. I always thought back about what Aldo Leopold (father of wildlife management) said about biologists (which I had trained to be): “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make-believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”

Everywhere around me I had seen that as human numbers increased, habitats for fish and wildlife were diminished. Subdivisions subdued winter ranges, industrial smoke stacks dim visibility, hamper breathing,  and on and on.  I was tired of being like an ecological doctor and so had checked out mentally of paying attention to the politics of the day. I did not watch tv or  read newspapers for over two months time,  and tried to avoid encountering anything negative caused by humans by escaping to the natural world. So, sitting in that eddy, alone, in my dory, I had found paradisiacal freedom.

But, then I had a semi-epiphany. What if I continued on to  live in my dream world, not paying attention to what the outside world was doing? What could be the harm in that? Well, people could be making decisions that could lead to damming the river I was on, then my paradise would come crumbling down.  Could I make a difference? How could only one person make a difference?  Then I thought about the impacts of Rachael Carson and her book Silent Spring.  She alone helped birds of prey by fighting the pesticide industry through her words and action. Every persons vote counts, because ultimately, it only takes one vote to break equilibrium.

So, it was time for me to start paying attention again, to the politics of people and our effects on the natural world.  Thus is the medicinal value that wild places bring to peace of mind. We need these places to at least temporarily escape the harshness of the everyday routine of scurrying around trying to make a living.  And to think, all this cerebral rambling inspired by one spooky spire on the slopes of the Salmon River.  From chukar hunting to river running, my convoluted thoughts continue to swim in the eddies of my mind. No matter where I go, the center of my circle is everywhere. Once I get my medicine I can go anywhere to be everywhere, and somewhere to be nowhere.

Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.
For river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.comor
Facebook page:

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