Just the Facts
A New Year's celebration of info-bits.
A collection of facts I've been meaning to share for some time now:
The best times to get out and see wild critters in January are as follows: first week 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; second week 2-4 p.m.; third week 7:30 a.m.-noon; fourth week 1:30 p.m.-dusk; fifth week 7 a.m.-noon. These are wide generalizations based on Hannon's Moon Time Chart. Be advised, though, that most critters are scarce right now!
President Obama has signed an executive order prohibiting the importation of World War II semi-auto rifles; these are the M-1 Garand and the M-1 Carbine. From now on, only government entities and museums may import the rifles.
The Michigan Natural Resources Commission has given the green light to hunting northern wolves in the state. A recent census puts the wolf at an all-time high in population in seven counties and there is a growing lack of fear of humans in the wild canines, worrying a lot of folks.
In Oregon, the state supreme court also liberalized the killing of wolves there after a successful lawsuit to permit ranchers and farmers to kill wolves eating their livestock. But there is a clause before they can shoot the beasts: The landowner must prove that he/she tried every measure possible to use non-lethal means to dissuade the wolves.
Other northern states, such as Wisconsin, are having similar wolf problems; a record high of 23 domestic dogs have been killed by wolves, causing Wisconsin to institute its first wolf-hunting season. Other states such as Idaho are reporting severely declining elk herds where the wolf is present.
Here in New Mexico and Arizona it is illegal for a person to shoot a wolf for attacking Fido, but as the problem increases across the country, public outcry may show a foreboding for the Mexican Lobo as well. Every dog owner I have ever talked to says that they would do "whatever necessary" to protect their dogs in the event of a wolf attack.
Illinois, one of the most liberal political states in the Union, has gotten in line with all of the others, when the state supreme court found that all residents have a right to protect themselves with a firearm outside of the home.
Speaking of which, in neighboring Texas, "old folks" above the age of 50 are applying for concealed-carry permits more than any other age group; this includes 16 folks over the age of 90!
Did you know that here in New Mexico, a person can legally carry a loaded handgun as long as it is visible on their person? Like concealed-carry, though, you cannot carry such gun into a government building, a bank, or any place that sells liquor commercially.
This past year 12.5 million people over the age of 16 hunted. They collectively devote 220 million days per year doing such, and spend a whopping $22.9 BILLION on their sport, creating one million jobs in the hunting industry.
Concerning the non-hunting shooting sports, both nationally and here in New Mexico, participants are increasingly younger, female and urban. This shift in dynamics parallels the increasing firearms sales in the United States; 37% of all new shooters are female.
According to the Pew Research Center and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, gun sales are up to an all-time high. I know for a fact that here in New Mexico, guns, ammo and supplies are still all but non-existent as the public continues to "panic buy" in light of last year's shootings. It has been over a year since meager .22 rimfire ammo has been in supply.
The good news is that contrary to liberal opinion, homicide by firearms is down 39%, while other gun-related crimes are down a whopping 69%. Accidental gun-related deaths are down 58%.
The best way to protect yourself against a bear, cougar or wolf attack is to first stand tall and wave your arms and yell at the top of your lungs. If the attack begins, then fight the animal with all you've got; do not play dead! Furthermore, absolutely do not run away! That triggers an auto-response to chase and attack by most large predators. Don't believe me? Try running away from your pet dog!
The oryx (gemsbok) in New Mexico is one of the most ecologically fit critters for this area. It eats almost any vegetation except grass, which makes it a non-competitor for cattle and sheep. It doesn't need standing water but will get it from what it eats. It has no known predator to kill it. The young have long, spiral horns soon after birth, and it reproduces every nine months. Some would have us believe that it is exotic to our state, but it is more native than most of us humans living here, having been naturally born here since the late 1960s. Yet, the game and fish department won't allow it to expand its range, in the face of other declining game animal populations.
The massive die-off of elk in northern New Mexico, where hundreds of bodies were found, was not due to chronic wasting disease, other diseases, poaching or aliens; it was caused by a rare, deadly, algae bloom found in one drinking source.
A golden retriever in Minnesota was found to have the rare malady of having eaten nearly two pounds of rocks up to the size of two inches! A veterinarian removed 16 of them from the stomach and the 17th passed naturally.
You know all of those "Bud" and "Bud Lite" beers some of you so dearly love? They are produced by Anheuser-Busch brewery, and the company and family are heavy supporters of hunting and the shooting sports, donating millions to the causes. Kudos to them.
Speaking of the very rich, billionaire Ted Turner, who is considered to be a devout liberal, is heavily into the hunting industry. Ted is the second largest landowner/rancher in the United States, and is the single largest rancher/landowner in New Mexico.
He not only raises buffalo for his restaurant chain, but sells hunts for the beasts on several ranches including the Armendaris near T or C. He also offers hunts to those who can afford it, for elk, deer, oryx and other big game on most of his properties.
A recent CNN piece on Turner mentioned he loved to fish, but completely neglected to tell that ol' Ted is an ardent hunter himself and loves to bird hunt. He spends big bucks for quail habitat on local ranches in southern New Mexico, and had/has quite a kennel of high-grade bird dogs.
His former wife, the "most liberal" Jane Fonda, was/is an ardent hunter also, and is considered an expert shot with rifle and shotgun. She and Ted used to fly in quite frequently to their local ranches to share a hunt. So much for the stereotype liberal!
Lastly, the winter of 2013 began quite mildly around here; ground squirrels have still not gone into hibernation, nor has my flock of collared doves moved south. Some outdoor persons have reported still seeing large black bears up and about in the woods as of December.
But I'm not complaining about the good weather; it has enabled me to keep riding my mountain bike every day!
As always, keep the sun forever at your back, the wind forever in your face, and may The Forever God bless you this new year!
When not ramblin' outdoors, Larry Lightner lives in Silver City.