Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve in Afghanistan

Kandahar 12/25 01:50

Christmas Eve in Afghanistan is no different than any other. Basically it sucks.

There is little to do, lines at the phone kiosk, and a line at the crappy, sorry ass excuse for a coffee shop Green Bean. They serve the functional equivalent of dirt and burnt coffee beans. I go to the Canadian's place, Tim Horton's. Great coffees at a great price.

Have I mentioned there is no legal liquor on any American base in Afghanistan?

Anyway, there are some highlights. If you own a laptop, you can watch DVDs. Some of the fellows make a big deal out of it, and set up a movie trading and watching group. Others shoot pool, read, or work out. Actually, in comparison to even 20 years ago, most of the bases have pretty sophisticated amenities. Of course, there are some without even the most basic facilities.

Tonight, the ground pounders shot a few flares off. You could tell it was for fun and the holidays, because they didn't open up and spend thirty to forty thousand dollars worth of ammunition. It was fun to watch.

The Mountains at Tarin Kowt.

I will be counting my blessings, call home at 0400 which will make it about supper time there. Going to say howdy to all my family and friends that are eating dinner with us.

I hope Y'all have a safe and wonderful Holiday season! Keep your eyes open, and your feet on the ground.

Best regards,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So You Think It's All Fun and Games

Kandahar 12/24/09


I'm just having loads of it here in A'stan!

This picture is from about a month ago, when we had a series of duststorms blow through. The dust is a talcum powder fine, heavy as granite particle that gets into everything.

Sucking dust!

To be honest, I'm amazed every time I see an aircraft, fixed or rotary, take off. You would think that the engines would stop dead in their tracks from all the dust. But our fellows keep them running, and running smooth!

Actually the most dangerous thing I have to contend with, (Besides the rocket attacks and the occasional small arms fire.) is dirty windows on the vehicles. I am surprised we don't run over more of these Third Country Nationals that dart out into the streets. My friends to the north, the fellows from Canada, are real bad about it too, especially the ones from Quebec.

Outside the PX.

We are in the "rainy" season now, if you can call it that. It is a wet, freezing, and miserable rain that comes down and turns everything into a sodden mess. The mud is slick, sticky, and smelly. And the water can't percolate down because of the soil conditions. Nothing works like it should in Afghanistan.

Remind me to tell you the story about Alexander and his band of Greeks...

Running out of time my friends...

Best Regards, and Happy Hunting!

Albert A Rasch

Friday, December 18, 2009

Greetings from Afghanistan!

Dear Friends!

I finally got access to the Internet! damned authorities don't want soldiers blogging so the whole Milnet prohibits Blogger and all the other blogging sites. Bunch of bull---- if you ask me.

I've got lots to tell y'all, but most importantly is that I am fine, fit, and hale. No worries or problems, but the truth is I've missed blogging and every one of you too! I've been able to touch base with a couple of you, but the net is rather difficult to access here.

I'll start plugging in stuff again as soon as I can get my notes organized.

A couple of quick notes:
Afghanistan is a dirty, dusty place.
The roads are awful.
The people are nice. To your face.
Don't ever turn your back on them.
The Afghan people can barter like nobodies business.
Kids are kids no matter where they come from.
Always, always, check your oil, carry a spare, make sure your jack, wrench, and any other tools are in your vehicle before you leave.
The Bagram to Kabul run is pretty safe; at 70 mph all you need to worry about is stray goats.
The Kandahar to Kabul run though, is different story; bring spare underwear and class VIII.
A 45 in its holster is about useless. God gave you two hands, use one.

Plenty more to follow! I don't know how often I will be able to post, but it should be pretty frequent.

Best Regards,

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bishkek or Bust

Greetings from Kyrgystan!

It is truly a beautiful place!  If I didn't know any better I would think I was in a North Eastern forest. Giant spruce looking trees, tall deciduous trees and and lower story shrubs make it look just as pretty as a post card!

There are these crazy looking crows that have a white bib, I can't get a picture of them here at the base, but I am told that they are everywhere.

I flew in with a nice Russian family, and they have a hotel that caters to moountain climbers and skiers.  I mentioned that the fishing in the rivers must be something and they confirmed that there are small trout like fish in the mnountain streams.

I have to try to get back up here and spend a couple of weeks exploring this area!

I hope I can get some pictures from around here, but I am constrained by rules on bases.

I'll keep you all posted!

Sent from Bishkek, Kyrgystan 08:45 10/28/09

Constantinople or Bust!

Greetings fellow bloggers!

I'm sure everyone pretty much figured this one out, but yes, I am in Istanbul, Turkey. Unfortunately I'm at the airport and I can't, or better said won't, leave the terminal at Ataturk airport. BTW, I gave the pilot an ataboy for landing the plane in one piece after about 12 hours.

I wish I had time to explore Istanbul, but my next flight is a couple of hours away and prudence dictates staying put.

The Blue Mosque

There are several incredible mosques in Istanbul that I would have enjoyed seeing. There are about 60 all told in the city, but you can see the major ones here.

Next stop is landlocked, cold, 80% mountainous, and only 8% cultivated. I'm told it really is no fun what-so-ever... But it's not my final destination! I'll keep you all posted as I progress through my travels. Dang it, if it was only a safari...

When I get a chance I will download some pictures. Oh and I have really been 90 to nothing this last week and a half and I commented on maybe three blogs. I haven't abandoned you all, just a little occupied that's all!

Keep on blogging,

Monday, October 26, 2009

Where in the World is Mr Albert Now?

Hello my friends!

My posts are getting garbled up! Sorry for the confusion, but I'm about as busy as a mouse in a cheese factory.

Well, we are going to play an interesting game for the next few posts.

Where in the World is Albert!

Right now I'm on my to the Prez's home town for a quick layover before I head out to the land bridge between two continents.

It's a land where the coffee is strong, the women have curves, and an international incident is bound to find me!

Oh, and for those of us in the know, Triple A wood comes from there often.

I'll send pictures first chance I get.

As always, best regards to everyone!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Monster Elk Taken in Yukon Territory

Bull of a Lifetime!

Many of you are probably aware of the non-typical 9X10 elk taken this week by in the Canadian Yukon Territory. Almost two months ago,On September 25, Canadian Dall sheep guide Alan Klassen killed an elk for the very first time! Using a .270 with 130 grain bullets, (about 50 grains shy of where I would start...) he anchored the elk with two shots.

Photo Credit: Alan Klassen

I did a little research on the history of these introduced elk herds. Yukon is the northernmost area of the elk's range. Elk occasionally migrate north into southeastern Yukon near the border with British Columbia and a small but stable population has established itself there as populations grow and expand their range.

Photo Credit: Alan Klassen

In the late 1940s, the Yukon Fish and Game Association successfully introduced elk in southwestern Yukon. Nineteen wild elk were transferred from Elk Island National Park and released near BraeburnLake in 1951. Another 30 were captured and relocated in 1954, with the intent to provide elk for new hunting opportunities. Between 1989 and 1994 the Yukon government released 119 more elk in the areas of Braeburn Lake, Hutshi Lakes and Takhini River valley in order to bolster the now growing elk population.

Yukon Elk Distribution Map
Image Credit: Management Plan for Elk in the Yukon

The elk have remained within a triangle bounded by Whitehorse, Carmacks, and Haines Junction, and are in two distinct and separate herds. The two herds are: the Takhini herd which numbers about 175 elk, while the Braeburn herd has about 85. The estimates made of the population are based on an inventory conducted in Fall 2007, along with radio-collar observations which are still being done, and aerial photo counts; but elk behaviour and the terrain makes it quite difficult to get a precise count.

Photo Credit: Alan Klassen

The movements and mingleing between the Takhini Valley Herd and the Braeburn Herd are not really clear though it is thought to be minimal. Small mixed groups and lone bulls are sometimes seen quite far away from their known range, for example in the Haines Junction, Dezadeash Lake, and Deep Creek areas. But is not known which herd these animals may come from. In recent years the number of elk have dwindled in the Hutshi Lakes area since their release in the 50's. And though elk have inhabited the area since their initial release, it appears that they may have migrated to a very large burn near the Fox Lake. The abundant new growth has been a magnet to the elk.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Beekeeping; Not Exactly by Design

© 2008, 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

The Bear grabs hold, all the while telling me to hurry up before they manage to sting us and we die of anaphylactic shock.

Quite a few of the things I have gotten myself involved with are coincidental. For instance, I’m a coincidental beekeeper. I was sitting at the feed store one afternoon enjoying the local gossip, when in walks a rancher looking for bee killing stuff. “Bee killing stuff?” I wonder. Probably wants wasp or yellow jacket spray. But no, its bees, and by the sound of it they’re in hives. One of the fellows recommends gasoline and a match, while another comes up with motor oil and a sprayer. Its times like these that I wonder how we survive as a race.

Now, I’ve always had an interest in beekeeping. Such diligent laborers those little creatures are. Not that I’m very diligent, but I appreciate their hard work and perseverance. After listening to the eradication plans of my less sophisticated associates, (I think they had reached the point of mixing an explosive cocktail of diesel fuel, organo-phosates, and black powder.), I volunteered to get the bees

The rancher tells me he doesn’t know how the bees got there in the first place. He was pretty sure that they had been in the same spot for a few years. So I get directions to the location.

I found the spot with little difficulty. An area of about thirty foot wide and ten foot deep had the look of purposeful neglect. Bay trees grew in random spots, and shoulder high weeds covered the rest.

Investigating more closely, I found a half dozen hives of four or five boxes each, in various states of disrepair. One bottom box had rotted so badly that the whole hive listed a good 30 degrees to the left. There were two other hives and assorted other boxes in the surrounding brush, most of them unsalvageable.

I went back home and did a lot of reading. Which in and of itself was educational, but did little in preparing me. Most of the information I gathered was related to production. There was some info on moving them from one location to another; not on the actual mechanics of the process, but rather the importance of proper relocation. It is true we came to find out, that there’s really nothing quite like hands on experience.

I figured that night time was the very best time to get them. They would all be home and cozy. Bees have to sleep, right? What could be simpler than gently picking up the hives and putting in the back of the Blazer, then taking them home while they slept.

Of course bees don’t really sleep. By the time I had figured out that a hive weighs in excess of 150 pounds or so when loaded with bees, wax and honey, the girls had crawled all over me and proceeded to sting me at every opportunity. By the eighth or ninth barb, I had decided to retreat and regroup.

If at first you don’t succeed, make a plan. So it was time to plan the operation. The next night I came better prepared.

First on the list was blocking the entrance; a properly cut one by two took care of that. Sweatshirt, light gloves, duct tape, mosquito netting with a hat, head lantern with a red filter, and two large Rubbermaid containers to hold the hive.

The plan was to remove the top box, lay it to one side, remove the next one, put it on top of the first, and so forth until I got to the bottom one which I would then put in the Rubbermaid box. Then the rest of the boxes would go back into the Rubbermaid in proper order. That was the plan.

I arrived at the location an hour after sunset. I geared up and went right to work. What I hadn’t noticed the previous night, was that bees frequently gather at the front of the hive, sometimes in smaller clumps, other times in much larger, depending on the temperature. This was a warmer night, and there were plenty of them hanging around the outside of the box. A couple of misplaced hands, a thump or two, and they were angrily buzzing around.

By now I was running around in circles, arms flailing in every direction. A bee landed right on my forehead. I took a quick slap at it with my left hand. Of course I forgot that I was wearing my beautiful wedding band. Damn near ¾ of an ounce of tungsten carbide clocked me a good one right between the eyes. That staggered me. I don’t know what happened to the bee though.

My wife was watching from the safety of the Blazer. She rolls the window down and hollers at me: “Honey! Baby are you all right?” I’m thinking to myself “Yeah fine, I’m lovin’ all of this!” All I manage to get out, according to her, was “I’m going to die out here! AAAaaargh!” I run for the relative safety of the car.

I finally called the fine folks at Rossman Apiaries. After explaining my situation to the nice lady that answered, she recommended I use a smoker and maybe another person to help lift the boxes.

OK point taken.

Now, its not that I’m cheap, but I am frugal. Money is always tight when you’re raising kids, and the price of everything keeps on going up. That smoker would cost me $28.00 of hard earned income. I, of course had a better idea. Back in the day I was quite the cigar aficionado. I still have a couple dozen boxes of cigars in a humidor I made out of a large tool chest. (That’s another story…) So I grabbed a couple of stogies and went forth to do battle one more time.

Firing up that cigar and—(Just go up a half-dozen paragraphs, where it starts with “I arrived at the location an hour after sunset.” And you get the idea of how this plan worked out. Save me the trouble of retyping it…)

I finally broke down and ordered the smoker.

When it arrived a couple of days later, I took it to the shop, loaded it up with cedar wood chips and lit that sucker. Finally! Voluminous clouds of cool white smoke! Now I was in business.

This time I brought Jordan Bear with me. We geared up in substantially the same gear as before. But this time we had “THE SMOKER.” We decided to move the smallest of all the hives which consisted of three boxes total. We lit the smoker with a micro torch and made darned sure that the thing was well lit and smoking vigorously. We approached the hives like two Roman gladiators sizing up a known and dangerous opponent. I started puffing that smoker like a steam locomotive. Clouds of smoke wafted over the hive. The bee’s wing vibration increased noticeably from a gentle hum to an angry buzz. I looked at Jordan but couldn’t make out what he looked like behind the veil. (Sweating bullets I bet.) But as we watched, every bee on the outside marched into the hive. I gave Jordan a quick rundown on what we were going to do. I pulled out my cabinet maker’s pry-bar and positioned it between the first two boxes. I gave it a sharp rap with the palm of my hand to separate the two boxes from each other. All I managed to do was to shake the hive from side to side. I tried a couple of other corners with similar results.

I gave the hive a couple of more puffs of smoke. I sent Jordan back to the car for a tire iron. A short time later he was back. By this time I had darn near suffocated the bees with smoke. Anyway we placed the pry-bar back in place and gave it a couple of good whacks with the tire iron. It took a good eight or nine blows before the boxes parted. By now the bees were getting real noisy; a few were even flying around looking for something or someone to sting. I suppose that if someone was banging on your house you would be pretty aggravated too. I puffed that smoker some more.

I tried to lift the top box off but the frames from the lower box were stuck to the frames from the upper. (The bees build comb on the frames, and the frames are what hold the wax combs and honey.) By now bees are crawling all over the hive, my arms, chest, and plenty have taken flight. I can see exactly where this is heading. I put the box back down crushing a dozen bees, and give it a violent twist to break the adhesion between the two sets of frames. All I manage to do is spin the three boxes around. Did you know that crushed bees smell like silicon spray? And did you know that the smell of crushed bees incite the others to attack something? I tell Jordan to grab the bottom boxes and brace against the next twist. He grabs hold, all the while telling me to hurry up before they manage to sting us and we die of anaphylactic shock. I gave it another twist and thankfully separate the two.

We put it in the Rubbermaid box and cover it. I take the bottom two boxes and with Jordan’s help put it in the second box. There are still a few dozen bees flying around, and I hope they all found a home in another hive; I wasn’t going to hang out anymore than was absolutely necessary. We each grab one end of the tote box and carry it to the car, load it up, and go for the other.

Finally, we are at the car and congratulate each other on a fine job. I pulled my gloves off, and then the cap and veil. Jordan was doing the same. Both of us tossed them in the back and I started the car.

What didn’t occur to either of us was that bees were crawling all over our shirts, hats, gloves, and everywhere else. Of course I had the car rolling down the shell road before it happened.

In hind sight, it was obvious that we started celebrating too soon.
The Bear, his appellation not withstanding, screams like a girl. I mean pitch, intonation, all of it, as teenage girl as it can get. All I know is that he screamed, I jerked the wheel, and we were barreling off road across a pasture at 40-50 miles per hour. Now, right about this point I feel the damned bees crawling on my neck. My right foot was trying to get to the brakes; both hands were trying to get the car under control. Each hummock of grass threw us against our safety belts or slammed us into the doors. Meanwhile the bees were busy sting the snot out of us.

At some point, I don’t know when, Jordan managed to tear the belt off, open the door, and before I could react, was bailing out the door. I suppose the car wasn’t really going that fast but it felt like forever before it stopped. The Bear already had his feet under him and was off to the proverbial races. I wasn’t far behind.

About an hour later, we were back on the road again, none the worse for wear, if you don’t include the five or twelve stings we got.

Once we were home, we moved the totes under a tree that would remain shady until we could get the hive reassembled.

Assembling them wasn’t that bad, as the bees were obviously disoriented by the move and allowed us great latitude to do whatever we needed to do without to much grief. That and it was daylight which made it easier to figure out what we were doing.

Believe you me, we learned quite a bit from that experience. The following moves went much more smoothly. We collected a minimum of stings, and ended up with seven hives of bees.We have collected about two hundred pounds of honey from our hives this fall.


As it so happens I was working the hives this weekend with these results:Yup that’s right!

Stung on each eyelid! You should have heard the colorful language…

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Not Even Pigs Can Withstand Big Coal

© 2008, 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
Wild Hogs Tough? Not Against Big Coal!

In my ongoing operation against Mountain Top Removal I have uncovered another example of the wanton disregard for the environment that the mining companies have.

In Baiting up Hogs, I gave instruction on methods used for attracting wild pigs. Hunter Angler of Jake’s Outdoors, said that there where very few wild hogs in his region. I went to his web site and saw that he hails from West Virginia. Hell I thought, there’s got to be a mess of razorbacks tearing up the mountains out there. Boy howdy, was I ever wrong.

I wanted to speak with some authority about his area of the country, and in researching through the data to answer his question I naturally started by searching the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources web site.

“Hunters killed 7 wild boar during the 2004 season. Archery hunters took 4 and firearms hunters killed 3. The entire harvest came from the same general area in Logan County.”

Seven? Total? For the year? Are they kidding me? I’ve killed seven just walking in an afternoon. OK, maybe I didn’t kill seven, but I sure saw a lot more than seven. Either those West Virginia mountain boys are really bad hunters, or something else is going on.

Biologists do not believe that boar hunting contributed to the population decline. Past seasons have been short and hunter participation restricted by permits.”

Ok, maybe they are so good that they just don’t get a long enough season to put a dent in the population. But there’s been a population decline?

“Wildlife Resources biologists conducted an extensive survey in February 2004 to confirm the presence or absence of wild boar…The survey indicated a much reduced boar population of probably fewer than 50 animals.”

Holy smokes! Less than fifty animals! I have raised wild hogs and let me tell you that three little pigs can turn into thirty-eight in nothing flat. I’m not kidding. In less than one year I had more than forty pigs. But that’s another story in and of itself. How could an area of four counties in beautiful, rugged, bountiful West Virginia have only FIFTY wild pigs in it?

“The main reason for the decline of wild boar in the four southern counties of Boone, Logan, Raleigh and Wyoming is habitat destruction resulting in poor reproduction and survival. Specifically mountain top mining and logging have eliminated much of the once mature oak forest that was favored by the boar.”

So there you have it; mountain top removal and logging are the shameless destroyers and despoilers of the land. How could I have missed it?

“Impacts of coal mining in the boar area account for significant losses of habitat in Casey Creek, Sycamore Creek, Jigley Fork and Skin Poplar Fork. During the last 6 years, 1999 – 2004, there are 14,424 acres under coal mining permits in Boone County and 4,946 acres in Logan County (WV Department of Environmental Protection). Clearly much of the ideal oak forest habitat favored by the wild boar has disappeared.”

“In the 1980's and early 1990's much of the boar area was mature oak forest. Since then accelerated commercial logging removed vast tracts of mast producing trees in main Spruce-Laurel Creek, Sycamore Creek, Dennison Fork, Jigley Fork and Skin Poplar Fork. In the past more than 75% of the boar harvest came from these areas.”

You see, Ol’ King Coal sold off all the marketable lumber before sending in the cranes and dozers, and blowing off the tops of the mountains. They are obviously unashamed of their wholesale destruction and they won’t leave a potential revenue stream untouched either.

“The demise of the wild boar population in West Virginia is certainly highly correlated with the destruction of the mature oak forest habitat favored by the species.”

If you go to the article where I found this information, they also mention the relatively low birth rate of the European Wild Boar. It appears that the hogs in West Virginia were originally stocked from a commercial operation. I have trapped high percentage European Wild Boar hogs here, and I have to disagree with the WV biologists on this:

“These individuals undoubtedly came from a few animals in Germany and were said to have originated in the Ural Mountains of Russia. This pure strain of wild boar seems to be less prolific and more habitat specific than the typical wild hogs of the south. They are certainly poor pioneering species. Their poor adaptability may in part be a result of a genetic bottleneck and the lack of genetic diversity in the population.”

I doubt the genetic bottle neck theory. Unless there was a specific set of negative genetic variables, it is unlikely that such a scenario occurred. I started with three pigs, two females and a male, brother and sisters, which reproduced at an alarming rate, with great viability in their offspring. I caught several high percentage European Wild Boars, and when I bred and crossbred them they demonstrated high fecundity and viability. So again, I’m not so sure that biological issues are the culprit to any great degree.

But, I will SHOUT LOUD AND CLEAR that Ol’ King Coal and mountain top removal are the main perpetrator of the demise of the wild hogs of West Virginia. The callus and reckless disregard for the environment and the people of the Appalachian regions shown by the mining companies is appalling. As I continue to work on this issue I beg you to frequent all of the hunting and fishing forums and tell everyone about the plight of the Appalachian Mountains. Remember that though it might not be in your backyard, something very much like it is probably happening somewhere nearby! When we are finished with Big Coal we’ll be coming to your backyard to help.

Here is a link to get you started: Stop MTR is Denny's blog and in my opinion probably one of the best centers for information on the destruction of the Appalachia.

As an outdoorsman, fisherman, and hunter I am aghast at the result of this abuse of the public trust. Though I am a capitalist through and through, and have absolutely no interest in any government intervention in my daily life, I am completely against this sort of wanton destruction of what should be in the public domain, though owned by private entities. The effects of mountain top removal are so widespread, that regardless of the specific location of destruction, the need for public intervention is apparent. For the coal companies to use an interpretation of the law to justify this abuse is not only unethical but immoral.

Get involved!

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues…

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ben G. Outdoor's Giveaway‏

Press Release 10/2009
Ben G Outdoors

Ben G. Outdoors is proud to announce their
Fall 2009 Reader Appreciation Giveaway.

Ben G. Outdoors a blog devoted to hunting, fishing and outdoor adventure, will be having a Reader Appreciation Giveaway! The contest will run from Monday, October the 19th through Friday October the 31st at 5:00pm. Winners will be posted on the site Monday November 2nd.

The list of Prizes includes Boots, Apparel, & DVD’s.

Please stop by Ben G. Outdoors for more details and your chance to win one of these fabulous prizes.

The Ben G Outdoors Reader Appreciation Giveaway is brought to you in part by Hank’s Clothing, Warrior Outdoors, & Magnet Gun Caddy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How Soon is Now?

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

By the time you are read this, I'll be on a jet plane to horizons unknown. I'm not certain when I'll be back again, but I intend to keep in touch. It might be a couple to three weeks before I can get my first messages out to you, but I will be blogging again soon.

So don't worry, I'm not going to stop blogging by any means! But I may have limited access to the internet, and my posting may be erratic.

Those of you that haven't gotten around to follow The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, (Over there on the left. Go ahead, it will make my day if you do!), please do so, that way you won't miss any of my posts when they come up. And trust me, they will be really, really interesting!

As soon as I can get back in touch with you and let you know what I am doing, I will.

All the best to each and every one of you!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday Blog Rodeo 10/17/09

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
Blog Rodeo: 10/10/09

Wow, yet another Saturday has arrived, and it is time for another Rodeo! How time flies when you are having fun.

Once again, I've been roaming the hinterlands of the hunting and outdoorsmen's internet and as usual, I've picked out posts that I especially enjoyed this past week from all of blogs I follow, and some that I found. There have really been some great ones this week.

Remember if you bump into a post you especially like, drop me a note and I'll include it in the Rodeo. You can even feel free to copy this whole post and run it on your own blog; it spreads the word, and it's always nice to give a little link love to your fellow bloggers!

My bud Rick Kratzke over atWhitetail Woods has put several really informative posts together in the last couple of weeks. This one, Intriquing Aspect about Whitetail Deer Lungs is a must read. Knowledge of an animal's anatomy is probably the most important skill you can have next to accuracy.

One of the things that is usually guaranteed is that when a man posts a recipe, it was something that was relatively easy to do. Wild Ed throws out a good ol' Texas Style Bread Puddin' recipe that I am going to try out myself. From Ed himself: "The neat thing is you can put whatever you like into it and make it your favorite way. In deer camps I have used bread, biscuits, rolls, fried pies, doughnuts, honey buns, cinnamon rolls and muffins to make bread pudding." You can't beat that!

T Michael, my good friend from Native Hunt out in California, has posted a really fantastic post about tracking, his daughter, and buffalo poop! You owe it to yourself to take a look at it, and maybe mull it over as I have. "At the suggestion of any creature subsisting off of another animal's feces, my little girl scrunched up her face and loudly expostulated, “Eeew’ you kidding!Tracking and the Art of Zen is just great and well worth the time to read.

I've been following this fellows blog for sometime now. I get most of it being that Portugese is similar to Spanish, but I really go there to see the pictures. João Alexandre Voss de Oliveira is a blacksmith and he makes some impressive and useful knives. Rustic Knife, in the Style of Nessmuk, and Engraved is a neat looking skinner. Check out some of his older posts while you're there.

And good ol' Hubert Hubert over the pond at Rabbit Stew, has put together some wonderful advice based on his experiences airgunning for rabbits along the hedgerows and fencelines of his neighborhood. In How to Hunt Rabbits with an Airgun, Hubert Hubert puts together at least a couple, three dozen tips and techniques that you can use on just about anything you hunt. Check it out!

Well it has been a busy week, and I just haven't had the time to get too many things done around the blog.

Keep your eyes on it though, interesting things are on there way!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Best Fall Foliage and Share the Experience

Press Release National Parks Foundation
Published on 10/16/2009

The 2009 Most Photogenic National Park
Olympus Gives Tips on Taking Stunning Photos
as Share the Experience Photo Contest Continues

The National Park Foundation has released the 2009 list of the most photogenic parks for fall foliage. The announcement is made in partnership with Olympus, the sponsor of the Share the Experience photo contest, which is seeking this year's best photo of the 391 national parks. The grand prize winning photo will be featured on next year's Federal Recreation Lands Pass and will receive an Olympus E-3 Digital Camera.

The 2009 list of the most photogenic parks for fall foliage with expected time frames for peak colors:

  1. Acadia National Park, ME Peak colors are expected now through October 15th.
  2. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH Peak colors expected the third and fourth weeks of October.
  3. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, PA
  4. Peak colors are expected the weekend of October 17th.
  5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC/TN Peak colors are expected during the last two weeks of October.
  6. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, IN Peak colors are expected this weekend and for the next ten days.
  7. Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, MN Leaves are already turning; the peak is expected in the next week.
  8. Mount Rainier National Park, WA...Peak colors are expected for the next ten days.
  9. New River Gorge National River, WV...Peak colors are expected during the third week of October, around the weekend of the 17th.
  10. Saratoga National Historic Park, NY Peak colors are expected this weekend and for the next week.
  11. Valley Forge National Historical Park, PA...Peak colors are expected during the last two weeks of October.

To help amateur photographers make the most of the opportunities, Olympus offered the following tips to park-goers:

  • Sun hiding behind the clouds? Don't be disappointed. Colors can often appear more vibrant in an overcast day. This type of even lighting is also great for displaying details in the shadows.
  • Consider different perspectives for each photo. Look up toward the and down toward your feet. You'll be amazed by the number of interesting subjects available beyond eyelevel.
  • Look for the small details. The landscape vistas will be beautifulwith fall colors but close-up photos of small objects such as a single leaf or cluster of fall berries can also make for a striking photo.
  • Think about backlighting your subjects on a sunny day. Backlighting is when you intentionally place the main light source behind your subject. Pictures of colorful leaves can be very striking when photographed this way. Also, don't let the sun shine directly into your lens.
  • Bring a lens cleaning cloth. When capturing images outside, dust and moisture in the air can build up on the lens' glass surface. You'll want to keep it clean so that the light can pass through evenly.

Amateur photographers are invited to submit up to three photos to the Share the Experience contest through December 31, 2009. In addition, at the end of the submission period the public will be invited to vote for their favorite photo. Enter by visiting or pick up a brochure and entry form while visiting a Federal Recreation Land this year. Great prizes include: Olympus digital cameras, trips to a federal recreation area, Federal Recreation Lands Passes and more!

Share the Experience is the official photo contest of America's national parks and federal recreation lands. Sponsored by Olympus and the National Park Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, the Share the Experience Photo Contest showcases the more than 500 million acres of Federal Lands and draws entries from all across the United States.

The National Park Foundation is an independent charitable organization chartered by Congress in 1967 to strengthen the connection between the American people and their 391 national parks. As the official national non-profit partner of America’s National Parks, the Foundation raises private funds, makes strategic grants, creates innovative partnerships and increases public awareness about the need and opportunity for park philanthropy. In its 2008 fiscal year, the National Park Foundation distributed grants and program support of $27.3M.

ABOUT OLYMPUS IMAGING AMERICA INC. Olympus Imaging America Inc. is a precision technology leader, designing and delivering award-winning products for consumer and professional markets. Olympus Imaging America Inc. works collaboratively with its customers and its ultimate parent company, Olympus Corporation, to develop breakthrough technologies with revolutionary product design and functionality that enhances people’s lives every day.

Contact Information

Mark Shields, National Park Foundation

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Mexican Fiesta: Part II

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

The Mexican Fiesta: Part II

I am going to digress for a few moments to discuss the method of preparation that I have observed used, and some other stuff.

It is a fairly common practice in all cultures that eat pork to withhold food for a day before the hog is to be slaughtered. The following day, usually early in the morning, a pan of food is used to lure the hog to the designated spot, whereupon it was shot in the head and immediately hung up and bled out.

This is my preferred method also. But I have noticed that both Cuban and Mexican slaughtering methods are a bit different. They tend to prefer the stab to the heart method, preferably with a sharp butcher's knife. Unfortunately this, more often than not, results in either someone catching a butchers knife in the leg or in a seriously wounded animal which is stressed. It is my opinion, and in the opinion of many far more knowledgeable than I, this degrades the quality of the meat due to the stress and the adrenaline hormone flowing through the tissue. Peter H. Capstick has remarked that spine shot cape buffalo which die immediately, taste much better than those that are shot any other way. I don't have any scientific evidence to prove this with hogs , but there is quite a bit of empirical evidence (dinner table) to suggest that this is the case.

Be that as it may, once the animal is down, the real work begins. Putting it up on the dressing table can be a real chore once the hogs start to get past 300lbs and a heavy duty block and rope or cable is sometimes necessary. A good hot fire needs to be lit earlier and a cauldron of water set to simmer. The cauldron of scalding hot water is then set near the work area. Using ladles, the water is poured over a section of the hog, and the hide scraped clean of all hair, and I mean all of it, right down to the feet. Holding a large butchers knife at a right angle to the hide, you scrape and pull the hair right out of the follicle. If it is too difficult or doesn't pull out, ladle some more water on it. Every couple of minutes the boys bring a hunk of cast iron, (mostly old disc brakes) that has been setting in the fire, on a long hook fashioned out of rebar and drop it into the cauldron. The water stays at scalding temp throughout the operation in this way.

The cauldrons I have seen range in design from the exquisite pure copper kettles polished with salt and lemon juice, holding 70 gallons and more, to rough serviceable cast iron ones. You can make one from a beer keg that has had its top sawn off, the loop handles are already there. If not you have to bolt or weld round handles to it. Made of heavy gauge stainless steel they seem to take the heat well and clean easily with a scouring pad and elbow grease. the problem is one of capacity, kegs are 30 gallons (I think) and are rather narrow, the width of a 50 gallon drum being preferable.

Gutting the hog by standard methods, great care is taken not to damage any of the entrails or organs. A half barrel of brine awaits all the viscera except the lungs and bladder, which are disposed of. While the guys work on the carcass, the women prepare the entrails. In short, the intestines are turned inside out and scrubbed clean. Likewise the stomach. The heart, kidneys and liver are rinsed in brine then put in clean ice and brine to chill. The skull is carefully split and the brain removed, it too goes into an ice and brine solution.

The now hairless hide is removed, care being taken to leave an even, inch thick layer of fat attached to it. The hide is placed fat side up a slatted surface in the shade and out of the sun. A sprinkling of finely ground black pepper is dusted on it to discourage flies from landing and setting up household.

Back at the carcass the lard is trimmed off and thrown in the cauldron which is now back at the fire pit. The fire pit is nothing more than a hole dug out of the soil with two parallel pipes crossing over it to hold the cauldron. Fancy is good too. Mine was a raised, brick lined fire pit, with a sloped feeding hole for the wood. A wooden deck surrounded it, and the cover was a slotted manhole cover I bought at a flea market. I finally put a wood fence around it to keep children from inadvertently burning themselves; at the fiestas I've been to there are always a couple of dozen of the urchins running around and I always worry.

As the sizzling lard renders, the water is driven off. By the way, this is the quintessential pot of boiling oil. Be careful. During this time the hog is dismembered, the cuts kept in large pieces. Season in any way you like. Down here in sunny Florida, the use of citrus marinades is very common. Reserve any parts that you may wish to prepare differently, but the custom is to cook the whole pig as it is supposed to be a communal affair.

After rendering the lard, a second container is prepared in order to filter the lard. A large towel is held by two individuals while two more lift the cauldron with a stout stick through the handles. Another fellow tilts the cauldron and gently pours the lard through the cloth which acts as a filter and removes any foreign objects. The cauldron is cleaned and the now filtered lard is put back in it. Back onto the re-stoked fire it goes and is brought back up to temperature.

The first pieces that go in are the meats, be sure to cook them until they are done. You will learn by trial and error how long you must cook it for, start out with smaller pieces and work your way up to the large ones. I have never been responsible for the cooking, I mostly watch and indulge, so I can't advise as to the specific times. But I may spend some time researching the matter next time I'm invited to a fiesta.

Then the viscera and feet are cooked the same way. Once again the lard is filtered and the cauldron cleaned quickly. The cleaned intestines are cut into three to six inch sections and tossed into the heated lard. Once they are cooked, which in this case doesn't take long, they are sliced into thin ribbons and eaten with tortillas and lemon or lime and salt. To be honest I don't remember how the liver and kidneys were done. They might actually be done inside, I have never noticed...

Now comes my favorite part, the hide. The hide is cooked, not once, but twice. First cooking makes what is called "salcochado" which means sautéed. Then after the second cooking they are pork rinds, like the ones in the bags, but fresh and tasty. The hide is cut into six to ten inch squares, and placed individually into the clean, hot lard in the cauldron. They are cooked until the fat has almost completely rendered and the hide becomes translucent. I warn you these are addictive and will raise your cholesterol beyond any machines ability to measure. You have been warned! Pulled burning hot from the oil, they are put on a clean absorbent towel, covered and pressed. The oil is still hot enough to burn the hide off your hand so use enough towel. Immediately it is transferred to a cutting board where it is cut in half and then cut into strips. A little lemon or lime juice, a sprinkle of salt and you have the most delectable treat known to mankind. After everyone has clogged their arteries, the hide is once again put into the cauldron in order to cook it into rinds.

And finally the brains which require the most preparation and taste scrumptious. The men do not do this. I guess it takes a woman's delicate touch to cook this. The brain is sliced into thin slivers, which are seasoned with salt and lemon, wrapped in tortillas, and skewered with a toothpick. After they are all made, and the lard filtered and reheated, the little roll ups are put in to cook. Again, I'm not sure of the time, but I will find out. When they are done the tortilla is crisp, and the brain slices have a decidedly different taste to them, sort of like egg but not quite. I like them too.

Well, let's get back to the fiesta.

Father Ramon had finished his benediction and everyone headed towards the serving tables. I stayed back waiting until everyone had been served. I don't like to be made the center of attention, I prefer to do it myself. And if I headed to the tables I would be made to be served first and I would then have to endure thank you after thank you from each of the guests, and my food would get cold anyway. Putting my glass down, I busied myself with the fire, throwing in a few more quarters of oak. Pushing at a misplaced piece of wood with a rebar poker, I felt a firm hand squeeze my shoulder. I turned my head, and I saw it was Father Ramon.

I immediately flashed back to a misspent youth in New York City where I attended St. Bartholomew's. Run by Franciscan Friars, whom I believe wholeheartedly are the storm troopers of His Holiness the Pope, and their sidekicks the full habit wearing Nuns, (Which Order they were part of I was never able to ascertain it was a "State Secret" I think.), St Barts was to Catholic schools what Riker's Island is to prisons. Discipline was maintained with an iron fist sheathed in a velvet glove, and justice was swift, efficient and merciless. (No fooling around in those days, and we didn't have school shootings, disturbances or attention deficit disorder either.) It was all I could do not to run, screaming "It wasn't me! It wasn't me!" But realizing that this wasn't Brother Thomas I relaxed, smiled and slowly rose to my feet.

"Father Ramon," I said, "que tal, como esta usted?" It never hurts to be polite and formal with the clergy. A smiling Padre responded, "Well my son , well." He's only a couple of years older than me, so I find it odd being called son. "This is a wonderful thing that you do. It is good for everyone." He paused, and I braced for what I knew was coming. "Tell me Alberto, why haven't I seen you at church?” Well that's an easy answer and it's real simple: I don’t go! “When was the last time you went to confession?" 1974. And I was almost caught by Sister "Knuckle Buster T" Theresa with Patty the 8th grade redheaded Irish bombshell. So you can imagine my aversion to confessionals. Avoiding the whole confessional thing I told him I would try to make it tomorrow. He wasn't fooled by me, not one bit. But he let it slide.


I've thought of inviting him to join me on a hunt. I am almost certain that he would. I know he enjoys a good wine and he has no problem with hunting. I'll have to give it some more thought though.

We chatted about the kids, briefly touched on the war in Afghanistan, and he asked me if I could help an elderly parishioner with a small matter. I agreed and he motioned to the serving table, which by now had thinned considerably. He's sharper than I thought. I excused myself and started to turn. He grabbed my arm in an iron grip, not roughly, but with the purpose of one accustomed to authority. "Manana, (Tommorrow)" he said, looking me straight in the eye. "OK Padre, tomorrow 9:30 sharp." I smiled and figured there were worse ways to spend a Sunday morning, like maybe a British penal colony. I hadn't counted on the conga group in my head, but that wouldn't be for another fourteen hours or so.

My plate was ready by the time I had walked the twenty steps to the table. As it was I was thanked by a half dozen people for providing the main course. After as many "You're welcomes" I managed to get back to my tottering seat and my drink, which had obviously suffered my inattention for quite a while.

The band had started to play again, having taken a break. This was the first serving in what would prove to be many. The pork was cooked to perfection, the rice was seasoned with spices, and the "Pico de Gallo", had a bite to it. I put down my plate and topped off my drink. I was in figurative heaven. Father Ramon not withstanding.

The rest of the evening was punctuated by conversations and congratulations. One of the younger couples decided to announce their impending nuptials. After that the libations poured twice as freely. As the Patron I was required to make the obligatory toasts, and boy, did I have to make them. It seemed that at every turn a request came for another toast.

It was late in the evening when my wife came to get me, I was satiated and had single handedly insured Bacardi's January profit margins.

Handing my keys to her I thought, "I doubt that there has been a more memorable fiesta!"

Hope you all enjoyed!

Albert A Rasch
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Mexican Fiesta: Part I

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

Here is another early TROC favorite. I find myself a little short on time, things have taken on a life of their own, and wrestling the tail of a tornado is always a heck of an adventure!

Mexican Fiesta
Part I

Fellows, I don't exactly remember everything that transpired Saturday night. And by Sunday morning it felt like a conga group had taken residence in my head and were using my hollow skull as a timpani. But, fiestas are like that. Some of it is still hazy, but I emphatically and categorically deny making absolutely any untoward advances at Miguel's horse.

Damned thing is too ugly...

By the time my lovely wife came to rescue me, (more for her sake than mine; she has steadfastly maintained that she wants me alive rather than the life insurance bounty that she steadily increases every year), I was in danger of drowning in Puerto Rico's finest: Bacardi Anejo. 151 proof of the Caribbean's best medicine. A tumbler glass in one hand, plate of roasted pork, tortillas, rice and beans, precariously balanced on one knee, I held court in the center of an admiring crowd, punctuating every sentence with the free hand. Hey Honey! How much am I worth now?

The morning's hunt had been a rousing success, the she hog I had brought to my friends' home had been enthusiastically received, the multitude of happy children capering about while the adults admired the animal. A little fellow named Jesus tugged at my gun belt. I tussled his jet black hair and scooped him up in my left arm so he could better see the sow’s snout and ivory. As I leaned towards the hog, grunting in his ear, and snorting in his neck, he let out a squeal of delight and I gently let him back down to run off with the other children. There was the promise of another Fiesta looming large, and the excitement was contagious; Don Alberto was here and there was sure to be a lot of fun. Already the commotion had attracted the neighbors who were now making their way up the driveway.

Chilled from a low crawl stalk through wet grass, during the early morning's hunt, I was forced to imbibe Bacardi's aforementioned magical elixir; for medicinal purposes of course. It works great on cuts, cactus scratches, blisters, dog bites, and anything else that ails you. Begging off after the second dose was administered and had completely seared the back of my throat to numbness, I asked a couple of the young "Muchachos" to take the sow off the horse's back. Grunting from the weight and trying to avoid the horses hooves, they managed to haul it off to the wooden dressing table. Telling them I would be back later, I remounted Chester the trusty horse, and rode home to a hot shower and dry clothes.

Before I could do anything though, I had to take care of the horse. Back at the stables, I put him in his stall, took off the bit and reins and gave him a cup of feed to occupy him while I unsaddled him. I ride a western saddle, but I've been considering an Aussie saddle. It's a cross between a McClellan saddle and a western and is designed for the horse's comfort. Which when you look at the financial cost and the emotional side of the equation of horse ownership, isn't such a bad idea. Flipping the saddle blanket over, I hung it on one of the rails to dry, and then reached for the brush and towel. I took the towel, wet it, and washed his rump where blood had seeped into his hair. Afterwards, starting at his neck I brushed him thoroughly on one side and then the other until his coat gleamed. By then I was good and warm. Grabbing a double armload of hay and tossing it into the rack, I gave Chester a pat on the withers and walked back down the winding path to the house.

On account of Alexander Graham Bell, good news travels fast; Martin and Emanuel, my boys' buddies, had already called ahead to tell them about the impending Fiesta. I didn't make it through the threshold before being accosted by two very excited young fellows and an exasperated yet ever patient and forgiving woman. "Dad!, dad, DAD!" hollered the youngest while the older did exactly the same except in a different voice. The words fiesta, party, music, dancing was all I could make out. The excited jabber was threatening to overwhelm me and the look of cornered prey must have been evident because Mom finally came to my rescue, steaming mug of hot chocolate in hand. A light kiss and a whispered "How did it go?" was all I was able to get while being guided to my chair. Jordan, the older of the two is a preteen, with all that it implies, and was already considering whether to wear his denim Arizona jeans or the black Wranglers. Something about Consuelo or Juana or Maria. Blake on the other hand was wondering if they would be serving tamales again. He seems to think that everything is a celebration and that the menu should contain whatever he likes.

I finally sorted them out, and looking up caught sight of my wife purposely looking at me. I was beginning to feel like the impala caught between the hyena and the leopard. My wife's eyebrow was up, which is the first of several physical signs that doom is near, so I immediately went into a defensive play number one. Mug on the coffee table, I put on my most innocent look and throwing on a crooked smile that was guaranteed melt the polar ice caps, or so I had been told, I said "Good hog, quite an adventure... Uh, by the way, there's going to be a party tonight and we're the guests of honor."

Silence. I could feel my smile slip a little. Cold sweat beaded my forehead. Don't sweat, I thought, don't let her see you sweat.

"I would have never guessed.", was the deadpanned response, eyebrow going up another fraction of an inch. “And have you been drinking? Already?“ Never having been called a coward, I decided that discretion is the better part of valor after all. Thinking quickly, I threw myself at her feet and told her about the harrowing escape from near death, the snake infested swamp and I even threw Idi Amin, the former cannibal dictator of Uganda, in for good measure.

I wasn't sure if I would pull this one off.

But, she finally relented, and said we could all go. The kids hurrahed and I figured I'd done it again, sly old dog that I am. You see, the problem is that she doesn't approve of, what is in her opinion, the over-inflated esteem that I am held in by my Mexican friends. She says she knows better; whatever that means. But that, as you might imagine, is yet another story.

Everyone ran to get ready. Within moments hair was slicked, boots shined, buckles polished, and hats brushed. We men were ready in a flash. As the second hand of the clock ticked, the boys got antsier. Jordan had settled on his black Wranglers, and must have combed his hair twenty times. Blake was whining about how hungry he was, even as he wolfed down another serving of synthetically buttered popcorn. I love these parties and just wanted to get there and take my seat at the cooking pit. But the wife, as all wives do I'm told, had to get prepared. The shower was still running. As the afternoon wore on the men's patience was wearing thin. Not that we’d do anything about it, mind you, we’re not fools you know. But the sighs spoke volumes.

Finally the door opened and she came out, resplendent in jeans and silk western blouse, sparkling jewels on hands and neck. Blake is still mesmerized by his mother's beauty and me, let's just say I'm as lucky as a man can be. Jordan's looking in the mirror trying to decide which is his best side.
Anyway, we loaded up and headed on over to the shin-dig, everyone looking forward to it.

When I pull up in our Ford F250, it looks that half the neighborhood has shown up. Cars were parked on the dirt road, along the drive, and in the front yard; I headed up the driveway to my usual reserved spot. No sooner had I driven up the driveway, when a mob of kids came pelting around the corner of the house, scattering chickens and puppies under their churning feet. Seeing us, they hit the brakes, their shoes kicking crumbled shell about. After a pause too short to even call momentary, they wheeled in unison and rushed the truck. Pulling the truck up into my space they swarmed it like locusts. The doors flung open, my boys bailed out and were quickly and irretrievably swallowed into the writhing mass of children. Like a swirling tornado leaving destruction and disarray in its wake, the mass boiled away into the distance.

Two of the "muchachos" swaggered up, the gold medallions of the Virgin Mary that hung around their necks reflecting light, their Stetsons pulled low over the foreheads. I had already popped my door open and was halfway out, but the Wife knew to wait for one of the boys to open the door for her. "Don Alberto, que tal?" asked Martin as he manfully stuck out his hand, his crocodile hide boots giving him an extra couple of inches of height, "My father asked to be told of your arrival." I gave him a firm shake of the hand and a squeeze on the shoulder. "Tell him on my way.", I said. He gave me a half salute and took off with purposeful strides to his father. In the meantime, Emmanuel had opened the Wife's door, held her hand and helped her down out of the jacked-up truck. Offering his arm he asked her if he could escort her to where his parents were. To see a couple of 12 year olds with better manners than most adults is a real pleasure, and a treat. With great seriousness, and yet lightly, my wife accepted and was escorted to the grand fete. Me, I was left behind to fend for myself, as usual, but at least I knew were the bar was.

Ambling over to the bar and pouring myself a long one over ice, I took a sip and let the liquid fire run down my throat until it hit my belly burning. The Fiesta was wound up by now and the revelers were happily carrying on. Mariachi music was playing and I could see some of the younger couples dancing. Martin was talking to his father and pointing back towards the truck, Guadalberto looked up from his labor and scanned the crowd. As he looked in my direction, I raised my glass, and caught his attention. A broad grin split his face, and handing the long oak wood spoon he had in his hand to Martin, came in my direction, side stepping around children and seated people. Turning back to the bar and reaching behind, I grabbed another tumbler and dropped some ice into it. I was putting it down when a work hardened and callused hand grabbed me by the bicep and spun me around. "Don Alberto!" I get that a lot when I'm there. "You must come to the fire! Everyone is there waiting, Come, come!" His hand had grabbed mine and pumped it in greeting, at the same time he was pulling me that way. I reached back, grabbed the two glasses and just managed to hook the bottle with the little finger of my free hand.

A circle of mismatched seats circled the fire pit. All of them filled by the equivalent of the village elders. A seat remained empty for me. How I rank up there with the elders is beyond me.

(Actually the reason I do is because I am educated, seemingly successful, and Castilian speaking. To their way of thinking I am the equivalent of a Spanish Don or in its English counterpart a member of the titled gentry. The other title I hear often is "Patron" which is the same in English, patron. Tonight I was "El Patron", I was the patron of the party. I supplied the main course, in this case a "marrano", very much like the land owners of yore might possibly have dropped off game or even cattle at the mission for the peasants. There is a subtle caste system at work here, and as my father has told me, it is best not to rock the boat. In this social structure, everyone knows his place, but if it is upset, nothing works right. So I play my part, and encourage the youngsters to strive at school and be the best that they can.)

Anyway, the fire was going, the seasoned live oak and hickory wood throwing up the occasional spark, my belly was warm, and the antojitos were being passed around by the pretty young ladies of the families in attendance, their dresses colorful and festive. Spearing a chunk of fried chicken breast with the proffered bamboo skewer, I squeezed a bit of lime on it, dipped it into the salt, and popped it into my watering mouth. There were triangles of warm flour and corn tortillas, crisp avocado chunks bathed in lemon juice, salsa verde and salsa roja, rounds of corn cobs with butter and salt, and assorted other goodies. Taking another sip of my drink, I watched as my friend, Guadalberto, pulled out a sizzling chunk of pork from the cauldron, and put it on a waiting wooden platter.

Anticipation was on everyone's face. The aroma wafted towards me, filling my nose with the wonderful bouquet of well prepared food. Spearing another hunk with a trident fit for the Roman coliseum, he lifted that one, spitting and popping to yet another waiting platter. The ladies had their hands full tonight. The pork was taken to a table where it was to be cut, served and distributed to everyone.

The good Padre was there, Father Ramon of "Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe" Catholic Church. Able to speak Latin and English in an equally impeccable manner, he is a strong , wiry man, seemingly fit enough to wrestle cattle, drunks or sinners with ease. He is one of those old fashioned priests that still makes house calls to tend to his scattered flock. At his signal everyone rose from their seats, the children quieted down, and one and all, (Including this godless heathen!) bowed their heads for the benediction. When he finished, everyone headed for the serving tables to be fed!

End Part I

Albert A Rasch
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Monday, October 12, 2009

Good Hunting, Great Deer

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
Photo Credits: "Buck" Bevillee
I had the opportunity to run into a couple of young Florida hunters recently. Both are very accomplished deer and turkey hunters here in Florida.

"Buck" Beville was kind enough to forward me a few pictures of some of the game he has taken.

To the left is a nine pointer that Buck took when he was a very young fellow. That's a deer anyone would be proud to take!

Below is a very nice 8 point he recently took.

A great archery Oceola Tom Turkey!

Nice Boar! Note the cutters.

As I meet more Florida Sportsmen, I'll be sharing their stories and successes with you. I might add that it was my pleasure to meet both these young men, and with good fellows like these as our next generation of hunters, we are definitely heading in the right direction.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member:  Skull Mountain Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, Albert A Rasch, Hunting in Florida

Other Stories of Interest:
Best Boar Hunting Rifle Calibers: Part I

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday Blog Rodeo 10/10/09

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
Blog Rodeo: 10/10/09

Well, yet another Saturday has arrived, and it is time for another Rodeo!

I've been roaming the hinterlands of the webz and as usual, I've picked out posts that I especially enjoyed this past week from all of blogs I follow, and some that I found. Remember if you bump into a post you especially like, drop me a note and I'll include it in the Rodeo. You can even feel free to copy this whole post and run it on your own blog; it spreads the word, and it's always nice to give a little link love to your fellow bloggers!

Photo Credit: All Animal Life
I found this one through a commentary on another post, and by golly it is just too good to pass on by. Bay of Pigs has some great pictures of a group of "tame" feral pigs in the Bahamas. Just look at the cristal clear waters! Them piggies can swim!

Hodgeman's Thoughts takes a shot at the fools that come from the Hail Mary School of Shooting: "From the hunting field this year I'm hearing more and more tales of these outrageous shots. Hunters in the field being tempted to squeeze the trigger on a moose or caribou at distances well over 300 yards. Maybe they're desperate for a moose, maybe they've watched shows like "Best of the West" and feel confident anybody can whack an elk or a moose at 700 yards, or maybe they feel its reasonable to even try." Are you seriously kidding me? Look I spend a lot of time defending hunters, but if that's what people think is acceptable, then we are getting just what we deserve.

Here's a new blog I just found a few days ago. Alphecca.Com is Jeff Soyer's creation and a great one at that! Jeff blogs about Second Amendment issues, and is the "Tribal Elder" of People of the Gun. I haven't had the time to delve deeply in his archives, but here is a great post: Idiot of the Day. Stop by, say hello, and learn a little more!

Mr Hank had his hands full up north, Hunting Ducks in Canada. "Probably the best thing to come out of this experience is that it really highlighted why I hunt, and what it is about this pursuit that makes me want to do it so much." That Mr Hank cooks well is a foregone conclusion, and we all know he's a pretty good shot, what's important is his observations on hunters, hunting, and why he hunts. I highly recommend this post to everyone.

Photo Credit: Born to Track News

Born to Track News as a great post on getting young pups started on bloodlines. BtTN specializes in wire haired Dachshunds, but all of his advice is applicable to any game recovery or blood tracking dog. In Training Young or Inexperienced Dogs they cover several important points, and give out a handful of tips that you can use to get your dog started on blood tracking.

Over at Patrick Grotto the Old Lion gathers us once more for further musings on life and a discussion on Code of Conduct. I am always thrilled when his posts come up. You should really stop by, read carefully, and pay your respects to the Old Lion.

Well, I bumped into this blog after doing my usual wandering about. The Jahntastic Angler AKA Zach J fancies himself a writer. Ain't no fancies about it, he writes pretty darn good if you ask me! He crafts a fine yarn in There's a New Shadmaster in Town.

Myself, on the off hand you missed it, I posted Reasons to take a Whitetail Doe, where I discuss some very good reasons to fill that doe tag. And you might want to take a look at this old post High Fence Hunting: What are the Facts?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Quick and Dirty: Linking to Other Blog

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
Make Linking Part of Your Blogging!

Wild Ed at Wild Ed's Texas Outdoors asked me to expand on linking after I posted the note on Linking to Each Other on Oct 4th.

In the preceding sentence I used a couple of different hyperlinks to illustrate linking methods. (By the way, I will use the words link and hyperlink interchangeably.) The first is the link directly to Wild Ed's blog, while the second is a link to one of my own posts. There is a third, but we'll talk about that one in just a moment.

There are several reasons to link to someone else's blog. The first and foremost should be because you value what they have written and want to share it with others. Links are a great way to not only improve your own posts, but actually invite people to view what you value on the internet. For instance on my Saturday Blog Rodeos, I highlight many of the posts that I go through every day.

If you right click, open in new tab, on the SBR link, you will find yet another link tactic that you can use. If you are using labels, you can find them in the bottom of your publishing frame, you can use those labels to gather all posts that are similar and have them all come up on a single page. You can copy that url, and create a hyper link with that url! Use your labels judiciously, come up with as many labels as you need, without going overboard! I did go overboard, but now I use a limited number of them.

You can hyperlink to a picture. Select the picture, and then hit the link button up there, and copy the URL to the little window that pops open. You will notice I used that to link Ed's Picture to his blog, and all of these other ones too.

Another good reason to link is to help a fellow blog get some readership. Nothing like throwing a couple of their links in your posts and comments, and introducing them to your circle of readers.

You might do as I do, and include links to your own material in your comments. This allows other readers of that blog to also make your acquaintance.

So the long and the short of it is, link to anything you think is valuable. Share the blogs out there with other folks. Direct others to your blog by putting links in your comments.

If you hover over a link, right click on that link, copy, paste it on your compose window, and then switch to html view, you will see how a link is formatted.Or you can just do it the easy way: type out what you want it to say, hit the little html link button up there, and copy the link location/url of the page.

You should have a text document where you paste hyperlink html for future use. I've secured the hyperlinks to most of my posts on a text document, in addition to the urls to many of the blogs I read.

OK one more technique. Everyone should have their backlinks allowed to make it easy for others to link to their posts. You may notice that sometimes I will have a single sentence link to a post I think is good, and that I want to bring some attention to. I also link to it to increase its authority. Listen, Y'all are my friends, and I want YOUR posts coming up on the google search near the top. So I link a lot! You can even do the link from the comments section where it says "Create a link", save it as a draft, put your current post in it, and put something like "Other Great Posts" over it near the bottom. See the example below.

So there you have it. If it doesn't make sense to you, make a note of it in the comments and I'll try to make it clearer. And get out there and do some linking, both to your own stuff, and to people you like.

Other Great Posts

Wild Ed's Texas Outdoors: Bushnell Trophy Cam Review Continues

Albert A Rasch
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Nebraska Hunting Company Scott Croner