Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hog Hunting Florida Style!

his is how we do things here in Florida:

Dang! My leash broke!
Not sure who to credit this photo to.

When you're bored let me know!

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Fact or Fiction: When Speculation is Taken as Proof

© 2009, 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

This is the first in a series of commentaries on game ranching, hi-fencing, property rights, and hunter rights that I will be exploring. I encourage frank discussion, thoughtful responses, and lively debates. Those on the opposite sides of the aisle who don't usually visit here, are reminded that I only accept civil behavior, if you don't have the guts to post without being anonymous, please don't post. You will notice that I sign my name to everything I write both here and elsewhere. I believe in what I say, and I am not afraid to say it. Show me the same courtesy.

Albert A Rasch
Chief Chronicler

If you were to read the Humane Society of the United States' description of game ranch hunting, you might be led to the conclusion that ranchers are an evil lot, hunters are immoral and unethical, and if you are a careful reader, that animals are equal to humans.

After reading their web page titled, “Facts About Canned Hunting,” I was so disturbed by the faulty logic, misdirection, implications, and unsubstantiated statements, that I thought to dissect the statements made by the HSUS and perhaps dispel some of the propaganda that they are espousing. I would like to point out that the HSUS states, both in their url, and the title: “Facts About Canned Hunting.”

HSUS: “Canned hunts are private trophy hunting ranches, also referred to as "shooting preserves" or "game ranches." Canned hunts offer their customers an opportunity to kill confined exotic and/or native species for a price. Though not all canned hunt facilities are the same, here are a few things they all have in common:”

The term “Canned Hunt” is a phrase coined by the animal welfare proponents; it does not appear in the hunting community’s lexicon. There is no legal definition of Canned Hunt. It was created to explicitly imply that there is absolutely no such thing as “Fair Chase,” that the animal is in some way constrained or held unable to escape its fate.

HSUS: "Animals cannot escape. Canned hunts may range from a few to thousands of acres, but there is always a fence. On large ranches, guides drive hunters out to feed plots or bait stations that the animals are known to visit at certain times of the day. Small ranches offer animals in fenced areas where the hunter may approach the animals on foot, pick his target up close, take aim, and shoot."

As a matter of fact, the HSUS does not supply one single factual and documented example of this practice, on their page.

That animals cannot escape, is true. That they occasional do is also true. Just as any livestock rancher tries to avoid the loss of his herd, so does the game rancher. But, the implication of the preceding paragraph is that the animals cannot escape the hunter. This is only partially true. Any rancher worth his salt knows every square foot of his property. Naturally, he will know were his livestock will be at any given time. The difficulty is actually finding them. There are ten acre lots that a person can get lost in. To equate large enclosures of thousands of acres to one of twenty acres is disingenuous at best and a lie meant to incite at worse. Remember the HSUS states: “things they all have in common.

HSUS: "Canned hunting often means a slow death. Because the object of the hunt is a trophy, hunters generally aim at an animal's non-vital organs in order to leave the head and chest unscathed. This makes for a more attractive trophy but condemns the animal to a slow and painful death."

Vital organ location has no impact on the capeing of a trophy. Any taxidermist can stitch bullet or arrow holes and you would never find it. Since the HSUS uses the phrase hunting and hunter throughout the page, then they are obviously uninformed, for the vast majority of hunters will always opt for the quickest, cleanest kill possible. Sure sometimes a shot is botched, but that is by no means a common, everyday occurrence.

HSUS: The animals are often semi-tame. Because the animals are often bred on site or purchased from game farms, animal dealers—perhaps even zoos—they have been habituated to humans. Animals who've lost their fear of humans are easy targets, which makes it easy for canned hunt operators to offer a "no kill—no pay" guarantee.

That the animals are “often” semi tame is an unsubstantiated claim. Might there be some unscrupulous individuals that have semi-tame animals? Undoubtedly. Animals do breed on site that is true, that they have lost their fear of humans is again unsubstantiated. The use of the word “often” implies that game ranches have tame, hand fed animals that walk up to humans. This again, is untrue and meant to be disingenuous.

HSUS: Exotic and native animals are bred for canned hunts. The exotic species bred to be killed in canned hunts include many varieties of goats and sheep, several species of deer and antelope, Russian boar, and zebra. The native species include deer, elk, bison, and bear.
Hunting groups that subscribe to the concept of "fair chase" oppose canned hunts. Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young, the Orion Institute, and the Izaak Walton League all denounce canned hunting. Many individual hunters also scorn canned hunting as unsportsmanlike.

“FAIR CHASE, as defined by the Boone and Crockett Club, is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.”

To be accurate, the Boone and Crockett Club position on “canned shooting” is: “The Boone and Crockett Club condemns the pursuit and killing of any big game animal kept in or released from captivity to be killed in an artificial or bogus “hunting” situation where the game lacks the equivalent chance to escape afforded free-ranging animals, virtually assuring the shooter a certain or unrealistically favorable chance of a kill.” Emphasis mine.

The Pope and Young Club however, does not allow any animal taken from any enclosure whatsoever regardless of size, to be included in their record books. Their definition of Fair Chase is directly related to the taking of game to be included in their record books. In speaking to their representative, I was told that the spirit of the "Fair Chase Doctrine" was: "The taking of any animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals is fair chase." So the rule is not to condemn the practice of game ranching, but forbid those animals taken at hunting ranches as being admited into the books.

Nowhere on either of the preceding sites does it "denounce" game ranching, shooting preserves, or hunting preserves. You will find that many hunters do "scorn" "canned hunting," but appreciate preserve hunting or game ranching as a viable alternative to public land.

After careful research of both the Orion Institute and the Izaak Walton League websites, I could find no reference to canned hunting, canned shooting, or fair chase. (As I write this I have not been in touch with either group. As soon as I do, I will ascertain their positions.)

HSUS: Canned hunts carry the risk of spreading disease. Canned hunts can be directly related to the spread of serious wildlife diseases, most notably chronic wasting disease. When animals are concentrated in numbers, share food plots, or congregate at bait stands, the likelihood of disease transmission increases. Disease transmission is not only a risk to captive animals but also a potential threat to free-roaming wildlife. Many states have banned canned hunts because of the seriousness of this threat.

To use the words "risk", "can be", "likelihood", or "potential", implies a possibility not certainty. The title word of the HSUS page was “Facts” not possibilities. Once again, their use is meant to instill fear and concern. There are risks inherent with everyday activity. We use common sense, intellect and our wits to avoid the pitfalls that abound. Ranchers and game managers have their personal and financial well being tied up with their stock. They don't make foolish mistakes often.

HSUS: Canned hunts are legal in most of the United States. Most states allow canned hunting. At this time, no federal law governs canned hunting. The Animal Welfare Act does not regulate game preserves, hunting preserves, or canned hunts. Although the Endangered Species Act protects species of animals listed as endangered or threatened, it does not prohibit private ownership of endangered animals and may even allow the hunting of endangered species.

Again with the vague terminology; "Most states allow canned hunting." "Many states have banned canned hunting..." Which is it?

Of course "Canned Hunts" are legal in all states, as there is no legal definition for canned hunts. As to the legality of game ranches, there are some states that regulate them. And until the Constitution of the United States of America prohibits the ownership of property, owners may dispose of their property, including livestock, in whatever manner they choose.

Be honest HSUS. Your objection is not to any of the above mentioned activities, your objection is to the killing of animals. A little more honesty, and a lot less hypocrisy on your part would go a long way.

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

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Sword in the Hand is Worth...

ell my friends, it's my hundredth post. Quite a milestone I'm told.

I guess we've shared a few laughs, I hope everyone has learned a thing or two, and I know I've made a few friends along the way.

I hope that the next hundred are even more entertaining, certainly more informative, and definitely better crafted..

He is my first stretch, interviews I did at the Shot Show. Both Tinker and Juan gave me a lot of help putting it together, so in reality, most of the credit should go to them.

I would like to thank all of you that have pushed, prodded, helped, and taught me over the last year.

Special thanks to:

  • Holly Heyser "NorCalCazadora" - Thanks for the great advice and selfless help... And the occasional kick in the rear.
  • Kristine Shreve "Outdoor Bloggers Summit" - Thanks for the occasional reminder that I was appreciated.
  • Sten "The Suburban Bushwacker" - He never takes no for an answer- at least not from me.
  • Phillip Loughlin "The Hog Blog" - Brother, thanks for everything.
  • Michael Riddle at Native Hunt - Your generosity is unparalleled.

Albert A Rasch holding a Blaser S2, Custom Imperial
"Costs more than what I make in a good year!
Do you see my Media Pass?!

© 2009 Albert A Rasch

I’m a bit of an edged weapon fan. I’ve a couple dozen different knives, a spear or two, and there’s an Imperial Japanese Army sword in the gun case. I really do prefer quality over style, you won’t see me waving around a cheap knife. I saw plenty of those at the Shot Show. I also saw some exquisitely crafted pieces. Some so beautiful that I would be afraid to pick up, much less use.

While there I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and talk to Michael “Tinker” Pearce, professional swordmith , and Juan Ortiz, martial arts equipment supplier and bladesmith. It's not every day that you get to meet guys that can actually create practical works of art from a billet of steel, but here I had two, and in the flesh!

I’ve known of Michael Tinker Pearce for over ten years, having occasionally discussed western martial arts and sword use over the Internet with him. Tinker has been involved in the customization, forging, and manufacturing of real swords since the late eighties. When I say real I mean: slice your arm off, lop some heads and make them roll, hack and slay real. Tinker strives to:

"...make swords that, excepting their take-down construction, would be unremarkable in weight, balance and form if they were somehow magically transported to their intended period."

Tinker started in the early eighties remodeling stage combat swords, and progressed to custom swordsmithing. His works are primarily in the style of the Viking Era and European Middle Ages though he has designed and forged in many other styles. His knowledge is vast and his understanding of the physical and metaphysical aspects of swordmaking are unparalleled. Currently he is a consultant/collaborator to CAS/Hanwei.

The Tinker 9th Century Viking SH2408
Photo Courtesy of CAS Hanwei

Juan Ortiz is an American of Puerto Rican decent. He is a thin fellow that looks a whole lot younger than he is. But when you listen to him speak, you are left with the impression that somehow, he managed to cram a millennia’s worth of knowledge into his mind.

He started as a martial arts equipment supplier, and then branched out into repair and modification of the weapons he sold. Dissatisfied with the quality of swords in the marketplace, he flew to Toledo, Spain and studied forging and sword making with the Hermanos Manzano, whose small forge was kept operating by an American historical arms dealer. These brothers, who at this time (the mid 90s) were in their late 40’s and 50’s, were making good quality blades for their client. After studying with them that summer, Juan came back home to build his business, J Squared Hilted Arms.

Juan Ortiz at work.

Our conversation started with my innocent question, “What is the attraction of these archaic, medieval edged weapons?”

A broad smile split Tinker’s face. “Curiosity and Romance, Albert. What draws you to a sword? What makes you pick one up?” I gave it some thought. “Knights in a desperate last stand, slaying a mythical beast, besting another in single combat” These are romantic images that my mind conjured up. He went on, “Somewhere back there (in your mind) you want to face your greatest fears with nothing more than a sword in your hand.”

"And my 1911..." I thought to myself.

In his book , The Medieval Sword in the Modern World, Tinker says:

"The sword represents something far beyond being merely an obsolete weapon. It is a symbol of romance and of the chivalric ideal. It is a physical connection to history whether it was made last week or a thousand years ago. When you hold a fine sword in your hand you feel… empowered; as if you can feel your inner hero lurking just below the surface.”

“It‘s a connection to the past, a past that the western world had left behind.”

“Why would the West leave such an important aspect of society behind?” I asked even though I already knew the answer.

He continued, “When ‘Morons with Muskets’ first appeared,” Tinker’s description of the first regiments of matchlock gunners, “armor and swords were abandoned. Can you imagine the surprise on the face of a nobleman when musketballs cut through his compatriots? It takes years to train a good fighting man; years of painful and painstaking work to learn how to use a lance or sword. But in six weeks you can train a thousand morons to use a musket just well enough. Well enough to stop heavy cavalry, well enough to stop foot soldiers, well enough to destroy an opposing force. Swords and armor weren't entirely abandoned for centuries, but the appearance of the first disciplined regiments of musketeers sounded the death-knell of the armored knight and foot soldier.

He paused a moment to allow me to digest that bit of information.

“I suppose a hail of lead balls kills noble and peasant alike, to say nothing of a valuable warhorse.” I added.

Juan cut in. “In terms of cost and time, equipping and training peasants was minimal compared to the years of training necessary for a knight. A good warhorses, properly fit armor, even a well made sword where almost priceless.”

Tinker and James Williams - Skewerings are optional!
Mr Williams is the President of Bugei Trading Co.
PS: Watch the video there.

Tinker nodded his head in agreement and went on. “It changed the face of European civilization in a matter of decades. You no longer needed, or for that matter wanted, the noblemen to lead the charge; a peasant army could stop them dead in their tracks.”

“So the swords and armor eventually became collectible family heirlooms of a bygone era, some went on to be re-forged into farm implements, or just rusted into oblivion; and with it went many of the martial traditions, much to our loss.”

Juan picked up the conversation. “Fast forward to WWII.” He said

“The GI’s came home from the Pacific front with tales of mad Japanese hewing their way through soldiers with long, thin, curved swords. At first, captured swords came back to the United States. Then the order by McArthur to disarm the Japanese of any blades over a certain length, which eventually was written into law, put more swords in the hands of the Allied forces. Many of them where heirlooms that had generations of provenance, and these ended up in the hands of the returning conquerors. “

Juan Ortiz Tanto - Cable weld blade, full custom.

“But that isn’t what caught the public imagination. The occupation forces were exposed to a Japanese martial tradition. Burly sailors lost their month’s wages to elderly men well versed in ancient forms of unarmed combat. A thousand years of continuous development had refined the Japanese martial art to an elegant and effective means of offense and defense. Though many of the battlefield tactics weren’t taught any more, modern military equipment having trumped large scale feudal Japanese military tactics and traditions, the core methods survived, the martial art.”

“In comparison to the unsophisticated pugilism of the west, the Japanese forms were dominant. This was, more or less, the door opener for the rest of the world into eastern martial traditions.”

“Little by little it crept into the western consciousness. Soldiers studied in Japan and brought these arts home with them. The same thing occurred just a few years later during the Korean War, and as Japanese and Korean people immigrated to the US they brought their martial arts with them and found a ready market in America."

"Many celebrities became involved- for example Elvis was black-belt in Karate- and this raised the profile even further so that the audience was well-primed for what was coming. But it was Bruce Lee, and the movie Enter the Dragon, that opened the doors of the Asian traditions to America at large. The year was 1972 and for the first time, vast numbers of westerners saw the flowing, seemingly effortless, martial art of Kung Fu. It was a small step for all the other martial arts to sweep in on its coattails.”

Discussing the finer points...

Tinker went on, “At the same time though, some guys out in California decided to recreate the European feudal court, along with the tourneys. This was also the time that the heroic fantasy stories, like Robert Howard's “Conan,” were being reprinted. Tolkein’s "The Lord of the Rings" was published, along with Fritz Leiber's “Fafhred and the Grey Mouser" stories and Michael Moorecock's "Elric of the Melnibone." All of this paved the way for a renaissance of swords, armor and all manner of medieval weapons. The Renaissance Pleasure Faire started in the bay area and within a decade there were 'ren faires' spread across the country. By 1980 the Society for Creative Anachronism was an international phenomenon.”

“The SCA had a big hand in resurrecting an interest in the medieval Western martial arts. At about this time manuscripts were being rediscovered, describing late medieval and early renaissance weapons training. It was a small start, but from this nascent movement there has grown a large group of re-enactors, smiths, armorers, bladesmiths, martial artists, and collectors. You only have to look as far as the History Channel to see the great interest there is in not only medieval swords and tactics, but also late bronze and early iron age too.”

Tinker is the founder and principal instructor at the Academy of European Medieval Defensive Arts. “Fior dei Battaglia” is the name for the art, taken from the 1409 manuscript, ”Flos Duellatorum.” The AEMDA website states that, “The Academy of European Medieval Defensive Arts is founded with the intention of practicing and teaching the martial arts of medieval Europe for the purposes of education, interpretation and preservation of these arts.” How cool is that?

What Tinker has found, is that Fior dei Battaglia has the same structure that the Asian martial arts do. That is, there are the basics, the foundation if you will, that the rest of the art is built upon. Fior dei Battaglia starts with wrestling and everything that it entails, from falls and recovery, to hand and footwork. Then the student goes on to the study of the dagger. After the dagger is mastered, the sword is introduced.

I asked Tinker, “But what is it about the sword that just grabs you?” I went over to a display and grasped a Roman Gladius, its design is one I like. “What is it that makes me think ‘I can hew my way through anything with this!’ when I don’t know the first thing about sword fighting?”

I must have waved it around like a numbskull because both Juan and Tinker chuckled mirthfully. If they weren’t so well mannered they might have laughed out loud. I really don’t know anything about sword fighting. Juan carefully and gently disarmed me; he twirled the sword effortlessly in one hand, the sword cutting small figure eights in the air between us. Appropriately chagrined and not a little bit embarrassed I sat my rear end down. I’m better off using something I know how to use… like a steak knife and horseradish mustard.

“Listen Albert,” I’m almost positive Tinker was wiping tears from his eyes, “It’s not hard to understand why people named swords and still do. A good sword feels alive in your hand. It feels like magic. Intellectually we understand why a sword feels that way. We can explain that with physics and mechanical data in terms of weight, balance, mass distribution and polar moment. Yet at some deeper more primitive level we know that it’s more than that, no matter what our intellect tells us. "

Let me quote from Tinker’s book once again:

“The Medieval sword is at once beautiful and elegant in its simplicity and focus, yet brutal in its efficiency and purpose. Even as you admire its beauty, its potential for destruction is always at the back of your awareness. It’s not some modern appliance where the desire for safety has rendered it tame and simple. It’s like a force of nature—it’s primal. It demands respect and if you fail to give it, it will exact a price in blood. It demands responsibility too. You can’t leave it carelessly lying around. For all its obsolescence the sword is no less deadly today than it has ever been. If you fail to maintain a sword it will rust—you can’t take it for granted. Owning a sword is a high-maintenance relationship. We know this instinctively at some deep level and it promotes a sense of connection. In a sense the sword needs you.”

You know… I knew that; somewhere in the dark recesses of my brain, I felt that.

A wall full of fun!

I shook hands with Tinker and Juan. I sat there for a few moment surrounded by swords, daggers, axes, and spears, just thinking.

At about this time, Chris Fields, stopped by the booth. It turns out that Chris is a local swordsmith from the Tampa Bay Area. Chris specializes in stage combat arms; these are unsharpened swords and made to take edge to edge strikes repeatedly. He and Tinker stepped away to discuss the kind of stuff sword makers talk about: distal tapers, harmonic balance, and differential tempering.

I was left to contemplate which dragons to slay first.

Juan, Chris, and Tinker

You can find Michael Tinker Pearce at Tinker Pearce – Sword Maker
You can find Juan Ortiz at J Squared Hilted Arms.
You can find Chris Fields at Sterling Armory

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Project "X": Building Blake's Pirogue Part IV

© 2009-2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

Building a Homemade Pirogue
Part IV: Cutting, Building, and Installing the Ribs.

Making a pirogue without plans isn't very difficult at all. Not knowing what you are doing though, makes it more interesting.

I know its been a while since I talked about Project "X." But between Christmas, New Years, the Shot Show, Grandma's bad back, taking Charlie out for walks, and all that other stuff, I haven't gotten back to it.

So today I finally got a chance to hit the old garage and pick up where I left off. Back to building a pirogue!

I cut all the rib sections to size. They are actually about 3/4 of an inch shorter than the sides. When we add the rub rails they will sit on top of the ribs and cover the raw plywood edge... I hope.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Sububan Bushwacker: From the Archives

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


I like nothing better than a good, ole fashioned, rollicking shootout on a crisp autumn morning. Blood pumping, adrenalin flowing, finger on the trigger, with acrid cordite in the air burning your nose like brimstone, nothing speaks better of a proper Sunday morning spent in contemplation of one's life

Sten, who is more commonly known as The Suburban Bushwacker, and who is our entertaining and fearless Blogger and correspondent from the British Isles , has an older post that he referenced today.

"Battue: French For Bushwacking" explains how our Continental friends organize and run a drive.

Now I don't know about you, but I sure would love to experience that at least once in my life. Of course it may also be the last thing I do, but I am willing to take the risk.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Best Boar Hunting Rifle Calibers: Part I

Albert A Rasch
Preserving and Tanning Small Hides