Tag Archives: second amendment

What Happened to the Ruffed Grouse?

Image: fineartamerica.com

Image: fineartamerica.com/

By Jack Kredell

I was strolling through the Dick’s Sporting Good parking lot after buying a box of eight-shot when the question popped into my head: Why aren’t there any grouse here? The question wasn’t why aren’t there grouse in Pennsylvania (there are, I presume, enough), but why aren’t there any in this parking lot right now? Lining the sidewalk were double rows of Japanese barberry, ample cover for a grouse to lay low in when not foraging the 25 perfectly groomed crab apple trees on the other side of the lot. If this isn’t ideal grouse habitat, then I don’t know what is.

That evening as I was coming home from a grouse hunt, I stopped at a friend’s farm to ask him why he thought there weren’t any grouse in town. At first he looked at me like I was crazy. Then he leaned in towards me, almost too close for comfort, and whispered, “Owls.”

“Owls?” I asked.

“And hawks,” he replied.

In a state where most people worry about the impact of coyotes and bobcats on small game, the notion that owls were behind the grouse’s decline was news to me. He then explained that the reason why grouse numbers were so high in states like Maine and Michigan was because they paid a bounty of 10 dollars per claw for large avian predators and 10 dollars per ear for quadruped predators.

“They pay per claw or per toe?”

“Per digit I believe,” said my farmer friend.

Though neither of us knew the exact number of toes an owl has, we agreed it represented a substantial monetary amount. He went on to explain that the explosion in the owl population was due to the great lemming crash of 2014, which pushed the snowy owl further south. The heavy snows of that year created a travel corridor for the snowy owl that, when combined with the weak snowfall of the following year, put Pennsylvania’s grouse in dire straits because it didn’t have any fresh powder to burrow into and avoid detection by the snowy owl (in addition to other predators). I was left wondering how anything could survive this vicious junta of predators.

But that wasn’t all. Lurking behind the snowy owls and red-tailed hawks were the Feds. The carnage went unchecked because federal restrictions made it impossible for us hunters to control the owl and raptor populations that were decimating our small game.

So the answer is that there are no grouse in the Dick’s Sporting Goods parking lot because of snowy owls.

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Image: en.wikipedia.org/

We Hunters

An armed hunter backlit by a sunset

Image: www.montcodfa.org

By Jack Kredell

The hunting community, to borrow Benedict Anderson’s term, is an imagined community; a community whose popular or mass identity doesn’t reflect the behaviors, values, and opinions of its individual members. Of course it doesn’t. No community can accommodate all of its members, right? As a community we’ve agreed to put aside differences in order to unite against a common enemy. Once that enemy goes away we can go back to being different. But the enemy never goes away, does it?

Hunters, who is your real enemy? Democrats who want to take away your guns? The “antis” who hide under your bed and unload your hi-cap magazines while you sleep? PETA? Stop drinking the Kool-Aid. Arms manufacturers love a Democratic president. Why? Because we think Democrats are coming for our guns.

The real threats to hunting and fishing are from the many forms of habitat loss, industrial pesticides, and pollution. But as a hunter you can’t care about those things or else you’re thinkin’ like an “anti”.

Right now, unfortunately, the hunting community is defined by its relation to the gun and other non-issues. We’re made to believe the Second Amendment is a central issue to the hunter. It isn’t. Gun politics has nothing to do hunting. The only thing that has ever put an end to hunting in the past is loss of habitat. And it will again.

To be a hunter in today’s climate carries with it a whole set of political and cultural expectations and concerns that have little or nothing to do with actual hunting. We hunters need to wake up. Those of us who actually hunt know that hunting is being undermined from within not from without. It is being undermined by the mindset that our enemy wants to take away our ‘right’ to hunt.

You’re worried about PETA and Obama? You’re actually worried about what PETA and the Humane Society think of what you do?

The real question is this: will there be anything or anywhere to hunt in the end? The irony is that we hunters have more in common with the very hippies we like to make fun of.

We both just want green acres.