Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Archive for September, 2008

Can There Be Too Much Baseball?

Posted by todblog on September 29, 2008

September 27, 2008

Since February, Jacob has been playing baseball on a regular basis. It started with the Umpqua Valley Christian Schools varsity high school season then ran into Junior State summer ball playing in June and continues into the current Northwest Baseball (fall ball) season that goes through the end of October. That’s almost nine months of baseball. Whew! The experience has been great for Jacob to get more playing time and build more confidence on the field and in the batter’s box.

We still have batting practice in the backyard batting cage and also hit soft toss into a small net in the garage. There are always a lot of balls around thanks to an annual tradition that finds us picking up lost balls found in weeds and blackberry patches adjacent to baseball fields. It’s like an Easter egg hunt for $4 “eggs”. Problem is, when you have so many baseballs it’s hard to keep track of just how many you got or should have. So, when a handful are missing, you don’t realize it until much later.

Each September the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife hosts a number of free hunting events for youths 17 and under. For the past several years we’ve been going to the Denman Wildlife Area in Central Point where they do a wonderful job of hosting youth hunters to a hot breakfast followed by a pheasant hunt, shotgun shooting skills clinic, and hotdogs. It’s one of the few times we give Mele, our German short-haired pointer, a good workout hunting pheasants. She has a great time coursing through the grasses and shrubs looking for ring-necked pheasants.

About two weeks prior to our pheasant hunt, Mele got real depressed. The tail wagging slowed down and she wouldn’t eat, not even her favorite dog bones. Three days of this behavior prompted us to take her to the local veterinarian for an exam. Something definitely wasn’t right. The vet discovered that there was some blockage in her intestines and that surgery was necessary to extract whatever was in there.

I looked around the house and in Mele’s kennel and found a number of baseballs minus their leather covers and a couple of fingerless batting gloves….. Could they be in her gut? The doctor confirmed my suspicion and removed folds of white leather with obvious seams and stitching marks along the edges. Some of the other material looked like bits of batting glove. Her demeanor improved immensely as she recovered from surgery over the next few days. We were happy to have our family member back with the tail wagging in overdrive. The only bummer was not being able to take her on the youth pheasant hunt as she would still be recovering with staples still in place.

Quickly, we had to come up with a Plan B. After hunting behind a good bird dog for many years, there’s just no going back to beating the bushes as you walk through an area hoping to flush a bird. Was there someone else who had a bird dog looking for some company? As it turns out Dean Perske an Oregon State Police Game Sergeant was looking to get some experience for his young German wire-haired pointer. It would be Kirby’s first pheasant hunt and Dean was looking to get him tuned-up for the upcoming bird season.

We had a great time at Denman and managed to get our limit of two birds in a couple of hours. There were lots of smiling youth hunters and happy dogs with long tongues. When we got back home, Mele greeted us with her inquisitive nose and wagging tail. She sniffed our boots, pants, and finally the bag of birds and she knew we went hunting without her.

Dean and Kirby pose with Jacob and his two pheasant limit.

I feel terrible about her injury and that it was totally avoidable if we just kept those “chew toys” out of her reach. She is a very smart dog. She knows when to pull a disappearing act when we least expect it, when to sneak something off someone’s plate, when to creep into someone’s room and I’m pretty sure she recognizes certain printed labels. However, this time she made a big error…what she thought read “Rawhide” on the baseball was really marked as “Rawlings”.

In time, her recovery will be complete and she’ll be raring to go find birds with us again…probably after fall baseball season. Until then, I think we’re gonna switch over to Wilson baseballs.

Regular baseball, coverless ball, fingerless batting glove

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Posted in 2008, Hunting, Sports, Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Full Moon Madness

Posted by todblog on September 19, 2008

September 17, 2008

The ladies at the front office handle a LOT of public contact on a daily basis, whether it’s on the phone or at the counter. They swear there’s a direct correlation between strange phone calls/visits and the moon phase. From their point-of-view, it’s craziest around the office during a full moon. After today, I’m starting to think it’s true…

Around 3pm, I received a phone call from a very excited man who was barely understandable. He spoke with a heavy foreign accent. I finally got him to calm down and speak slowly. It seems he left his well shaft uncovered over the past few days and a deer fell into it. Nobody was available to help him and he was distraught over his situation and the deer’s. I told him that I’d send some folks over to check it out and pull the deer out…

Now the last time I had an adventure like this, it was a couple summers ago on a Friday close to 5pm. I was responding to a large gated property where a man on crutches alienated himself from his neighbors and didn’t know any of them. If he had better relations with his neighbors he wouldn’t be needing me. Apparently he left home and forgot to close the above ground pool gate. When he came home there was a black-tailed deer swimming laps in his pool trying to find a way out. There was no shallow end with stairs, just a pool ladder to get in and out. That was not something a deer could figure out or negotiate. It was able to rest from time-to-time on the floating bubble mat used to cover the pool which was beginning to shred from the doe’s sharp hooves. When I showed up, the doe began swimming circles again and I threw a noose around her neck from a catch pole and pulled her up the ladder. As soon as her feet felt solid ground she lurched forward yanking me to the slippery deck. I barely got the noose off her neck and she bolted out the gate. I felt a sharp pain on my left shin and it must’ve been where she kicked me as I hit the ground. I told the man to get to know his neighbors and make friends with them. It would come in handy for times like this. It would also be a good idea to keep the pool gate closed. I also remember that incident took place during a full moon.

The look of a poor innocent doe before kicking me a good one.

So, a deer in a well should be a piece of cake right?…

Terry and Nick headed out with a long catch pole, some rope and a canvas tarp. When they got there they found an energetic black-tailed doe trying unsuccessfully to climb out of a 12 foot deep concrete shaft 4 foot in diameter with a foot of water in the bottom. There was no way that doe was coming out easy. Nick didn’t feel like climbing down in the well and letting the deer kick and stomp it’s way out on his back. So, they called me to bring the chemical immobilization kit and a 12 foot ladder. I was joined by our resident deer darting expert Jeff, who wanted to come out and see what all the excitement was about. We threw some extra gear in the truck just in case…

Upon arrival, I could see why this deer was going to be a problem if not sedated when attempting to extract her from the well. She would go totally berserk and risk injury to herself and anyone trying to help her. We filled a couple of darts with a cocktail mix of tranquilizers and loaded the blowgun. I was given the honor of darting Ms. Doe in the round. She was very alert and big-eyed as I peered over the edge to get a look at her. I took aim and puffed out a burst of air into the blowgun. The dart sailed to its target and bounced off and into the well. The dart charge failed to go off and more than likely no drug was administered. We waited to see if the doe would show any signs of sedation…

welljefftod1

Sizing up the situation… Hmm, could work as an imu (underground oven).

Notice the multiple scratch marks on the side of the well where the doe attempted to get out. This doe was good. She was setting us up to feel sorry for her… But, I instantly recognized that “I wanna kick you” look.

No, I’m not sucking water out of the well… Ms. Doe is about to get darted in the rump.

After 10 minutes I loaded dart #2 and repeated the process. This time the dart went off after finding its target and we waited patiently for the deer to yield to the cocktail mix. After 8 minutes the doe’s ears began to sag and her head began to sink. As her legs got wobbly, the catch pole noose was placed over her head to prevent her head from going underwater in the well. When she was totally knocked out a ladder was placed in the well and Nick climbed down to help the doe. A blindfold was placed over her eyes to keep her calm and a tarp was slipped under her body to work as a cargo net to pull her out.

Holding the doe’s head up to prevent her from drowning while sedated


wellnick1Nick climbing out after the rescue.


Jeff checks on the doe as she sleeps soundly.

The doe was extracted with no problem and we monitored her for about an hour. We gave her a reversal dose to hasten her recovery and left her with the landowner. He later reported that she was fully alert and trying to support her weight a couple of hours later that night.

Oh well, I guess all’s well that ends well… until the next full moon.

Posted in 2008, Stories, Stuff I Get To Do | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Children of the Corn

Posted by todblog on September 13, 2008

September 10, 2008

Each morning we awake to the sound of large flocks of Canada geese lifting off the Umpqua River, barely clearing our treetops and destined for nearby fields to gorge themselves on wheat, alfalfa, grass, or corn. The sound of goose music and wingbeats overhead is a sweet country tune. Of course, like anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad.

With the cost of fuel being what it is, everyone feels the sting of added costs to goods and services. Running farm equipment to produce forage is no different. Like any good business, you try to maximize your product with minimal cost. Ranchers and farmers eagerly await the early goose season as a means of gaining some form of relief from months of goose grazing. It is surprising how much forage a goose can consume on a daily basis. Multiply that by however many hundred there are in the flock and it adds up quickly.

The early goose season is held in early September for only ten days and local hunters jump at the chance to help farmers and ranchers by thinning out a few birds (aka Sky Carp). Usually that means knocking on doors and asking permission to hunt fields, setting up decoys, waiting for flocks to show up and hopefully get a chance to take a few geese home.

Fortunately we are blessed to live in the country and have geese flying around us on a daily basis. We also have great neighbors who happen to grow delicious U-Pick fruits and vegetables including sweet corn. As the summer fades and rows of corn get picked over and removed, it creates a nice landing strip for hungry geese. It doesn’t take long for the flying gleaners to find free food and they pour into the field at all times of the day looking for tidbits.

Well, at the end of a long day I came home from work and Jacob met me in the driveway to tell me that the geese were in the field as we spoke. It was about 6pm and there was still plenty of time left to put the sneak on the unsuspecting birds. I ran into the house and made a quick phone call to get permission to hunt the field. We grabbed our 12 gauge shotguns on the way out the door, stuffed a handful of shotshells into our pockets, and walked down the road.

We stepped off the road and ducked into the walnut orchard and started feeding our shotguns with steel shot BB loads. As we approached the edge of the walnut orchard we could hear the sound of nervous geese. I told Jacob that’s flock talk you hear before they take off and fly. Sure enough, a small group of seven lifted off and flew over the walnut trees. They were headed back to the river for the night and we figured the remaining geese would follow soon. We quickly moved towards the rows of cabbage and broccoli and just past that was the rows of standing corn. We were about 10 yards apart from each other and like synchronized swimmers we dove through the standing corn and emerged on the other side to see at least 50 geese feeding about 15 yards in front of us. They immediately lifted off in a thundering chorus of wingbeats and honks and I heard Jacob start shooting. In a matter of seconds, six shots rang out between the two of us and 5 U-Pick geese lay on the ground. It would have been easy to take a limit of five birds each but, we had more than enough for our needs. Mele was running around trying to grab the geese and retrieve them but, she had never before encountered so many large birds that were so heavy.

With all the commotion we created, we were quickly joined by some neighborhood boys who came into the corn field and helped us pack the geese back home and assisted us with cleaning the birds for the freezer. As we cleaned birds in the backyard, we could hear multiple flights of geese overhead heading back to the river for their nightly roost.

I thought to myself, how great it is that we live where we do. After all, there are quite a few places that might not appreciate kids walking down the street wearing shorts and T-shirts toting shotguns (and birds). Fortunately for us, we live in the country where people don’t feel compelled to call 911 if they see kids in the corn with shotguns.

Oh by the way, the next morning at 6:30am, 70+ geese returned to the corn field to resume their feed fest.

To visit an earlier story on banding geese and see how much Jacob has grown, go to Goose Jewelry.

Walnut trees, cabbage, broccoli, corn and geese!

Jacob, Elias, Mele and Isaac before heading home to clean birds.

Posted in 2008, Hunting, Stories | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

If Can Can, If No Can No Can

Posted by todblog on September 1, 2008

September 1, 2008

We spent the last few days at Imnaha for our annual get-together that involves good company, lots of great food, early morning hunts, mid-day fishing, and late afternoon hunts. Usually there is fall bear season, archery deer & elk, and grouse season as options for hunters that time of year. So, we usually stuff as much gear as possible in the truck to max-out on the hunting and fishing opportunities as best as we can in a few short days. It usually takes at least a week and a bottle of Aleve to recover from all that activity.

One thing for sure is forest grouse season always opens on September 1. This year that happened to fall on Monday our travel day to get back home before school starts the next day. Travel time is approximately 11 hours one-way between Imnaha and Roseburg. That means getting an early start on the road, if can.

One of the family members that came with us was Mele our 10 year old German short-haired pointer. We weren’t sure if we would have enough time to get in a morning bird hunt with her as there is always lots to do on the last day such as packing and cleaning-up. We brought the shotguns along just in case…

Well the last night of our stay was spent deliberating whether to go grouse hunting or not the next morning. We brought Mele all this way and we knew there were grouse a few hundred yards from camp… it would be a crime not to go, if only for a short while. Only one problem, our gear checklist was incomplete.

An important issue when hunting with pointing dogs is to know where they are, especially in dense creek bottom brush. Once Mele locks up on birds and is motionless, it’s hard to pinpoint her location. We normally suit up Mele with a beeper collar that puts out a tone when the collar is motionless after a few seconds. However, the collar wasn’t working! We looked around for a bell to attach to her collar so we’d at least know where she was last heard before pointing birds and going silent. But no bell could be found.

We were determined to take Mele out for a short spin the next morning with or without a bell. As folks in Hawaii say, “if can can, if no can no can”. Translated that means, “if you can that’s okay, if you cannot that’s okay too”. Lucky for us we found a small tin can, some wire and steel washers. It would have to do. It was quickly fashioned into a bell with a pair of pliers and we were styling. It had a dull ring to it but, it would work for our purposes.

Jacob and I got started about 6am and within an hour Mele found about 12 ruffed grouse. The cover was thick and made for some tough shooting. We called it quits at 7am and headed back to camp to pack and clean-up. It was a crazy way to start off a long and busy day but, we were glad we took the time to take Mele on a short hunt. She had a great day that started out with a bang.

Mele with her Can-Do Attitude…

Mele and Jacob with the No Bell Prize- a nice ruffed grouse!

Posted in 2008, Hunting, Stories | Tagged: , , | 10 Comments »