Category Archives: animals

Please do not…

Annoy, torment, aggravate, agitate, besiege, discombobulate, disturb, distract, disrupt, pester, plague, molest, worry, badger, harry, harass, heckle, persecute, irk, bullyrag, vex, disquiet, grate, beset, bother, tease, nettle, tantalize, perturb, unsettle, upset or ruffle the animals

Fark you, Birdwell!

 

Hey Bird, get me stick…
…and another beer.

You see, I am the animal pesterer. The animal irkster. I like to grate, beset and bother the animals. Always have. Not sure why, just do. Vexation and badering are my trademarks, just ask any dog that has been unfortunate enough to live next door or any squirrle that has helped itself to my birdfeeder.

 

Fark you, Birdwell!

Or my dog, or cat, for that matter. Just because they fall under the general rules of protection in my house doesn’t mean they don’t get bothered, disquieted or worried, occassionally. It all depends on my general mood and blood alcohol level.

 

 

 

Fark you, Birdwell!

I was eating a bowl of chili one evening and noticed the dog across the room in his standard pose – that being prostrate on the floor and motionless, except for his eyes, which always seem to look at me with a mix of distain and worry. Feeling uncharacteristically generous, I flicked a red kidney bean at him. It landed right by his nose. He knew it was there, but like my presence, he gave it no more attention than a nostril flare.

Ungrateful hound. So I flicked a few more at him, all landing in his fur. Neither he, nor the beans moved until I pointed it out my daughter. I’ve never owned a hound like this, one that would eschew easy food in exchange for not having to exert any additional energy in the eating of such.

 

Fark you, Birdwell!

Badger, harry, harass or heckle?
The cat, after 7 years, knows that turning his back on me is just not the best idea. Never can tell when a spit ball might come flying out of a sippy straw, or a Nerf projectile (or two, three, four or five) might be launched in his general direction. (I’m so glad my wife purchased that Nerf launcher for my daughter. Now that I think about it, Sweetpea tends to hide it on me and I haven’t seen it lately).

Now, let’s be clear here. I don’t hurt the animals. I just persecute, bullyrag, tease and nettle them. The ears are likely targets, especially if they stick up from the target animal’s head, exposing the inner ear. It must be the same impulse that causes one to give someone else a ‘wet willie’.

Pester, plague, molest? Well, if I can get away with it, sure.

After a lifetime of such behavior, I generally know when enough is enough. I still have all ten fingers intact. But I have a keen sense for when it is time to move onto some other form of entertainment. It usually is not when the animal is ruffled or tantalized.

I cornered a large water snake in some rocks alonside the lake. It chose the wrong crevice to hide in becasue there wasn’t anywhere to escape to. I probed the crevice with stick, trying to sprun the snake into evasive action, but its chosen defense was to emit a horrible, musky stench. I bailed.

Once, I threw a dried kernal of corn into the nostril of a bison. If you’ve never seen a bison nostil up close, let me assure you, it was not that difficult. I could clearly see the corn kernel sitting in the low area of the bison’s nostil, until it inhaled and sucked it up. To this day I am still uncertain if it was aspirated into it’s lungs, or shot back out on exhale. I believe the latter, as the bison became somewhat annoyed and head-butted the fence hard enough to shudder the supports. Talk about beset, bothered and bullyragged. I moved on to other, smaller game that weren’t capable of trampling me.

 

Fark you, Birdwell!

But don’t think that size alone will deter me. I once swatted a full grown milk cow in the head with my bow when a herd of them had gathered around me whilst I was bow hunting for deer. At first I didn’t mind, they provided good cover as they lay there, belching and chewing their cud (a most disgusting and unnerving sound to the uninitated). The problem began after they satisfied their gutteral needs. They seemed to grow restless and began bumping into me, rubbing their head on the end of my bow and stepping on my feet. If you haven’t had a cow step on your foot a couple of times, let me assure you, heavy boots don’t do much to mitigate the discomfort.

I wasn’t sure what I could do – a two-legged human of around 175 lbs – against a large, 4 legged ungulate ringing in around a half ton or so. I pushed back, stepped on a few hoofs and back-handed one square on the snout (ker-whap!). They thought I was playing and became even more rambunctious. One cow in particular seemed quite fond of me. I could tell because she proceeded to cover my lower half with cow slobber and bovine snot. That was when I drew the line and cracked her in the skull with the bow. It got everyone’s attention and they stampeded off across the field. Cow stampedes are also very unnerving to be in the middle of.

Is there a problem, Birdwell?

 

Also, know this: A moose is a large animal. If you’ve never seen one up close, let me tell you. Large. Even so, they don’t like being shot with the slingshot. (now that I think about it, neither does anything else…). And just because you are driving alongside one in a Jeep Cherokee whilst poinking marbles off of their ribs doesn’t mean that you are protected. Because, as my good friend Chris pointed out, they can easily turn, attack and roll the vehicle. And that would not be a good thing deep in the Maine wilderness, 10 miles from the nearest paved road and another 4 from camp.

I advise you to stop your shenanigans, Birdwell.

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Just leave snakes alone

 

Wasn’t this enough of a hint?

This Public Service Announcement is brought to you from an article on CNN.com (6/29/2017).

Up to 70% of reptile bites are provoked by the person bitten, based on cases seen by the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.

That does not surprise me, nor any of the Bird Crew, I am sure. Each one of us has done our share of antagonizing reptiles (amphibians, mammals, birds, insects and just about anything else that can be found crawling, walking, flying or swimming in the northeastern US). I don’t know why, exactly, but it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

Arizona has more, and more deadly species, for sure. But I have not seen very many animals unfortunate enough to cross the path of a gang of teenage boys escape unscathed.

“Most of them tend to be males under the age of 25 who have been drinking …

Holy shitake, stop the press! Under 25 and drinking?!

“…they’re out there messing around with snakes doing some dumb stuff,” said Goode. (Matthew Goode, a research scientist in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona)

 What I like best about this article is that, much like a well written poem or haiku, Mr. Goode was able to convey the entirety of his message with a minimum of well chosen words. Two properly constructed sentences, actually, that cover all of the ground most of us guys (and quite a few girls) know from experience.

Messing around with snakes is dumb, no argument there. But a snake basking on the side of a trail or swimming by when you are fishing is just asking for trouble. It’s not unlike waving a red flag at a bull. It prompts action.

And the addition of alcohol? That is just fanning the flames.

“Hey Birdwell! There’s a cot-danged rabble snake over here in the ditch. Grab me a stick…and another beer…”

That was in my younger years. These days I am much kinder and softer of heart to the local fauna. Just ask the 4-foot black snake that I uncovered while turning over the mulch pile with my pitch fork. I could have easily (and safely) skewered it, skinned it’s scaly hide and rendered it’s bones (for the collection). But I refrained.

Because I like rodents even less. And snakes eat rodents.

Like a lot of things in life, the hard lessons are the best lessons. I consider myself indeed fortunate to have all fingers and toes intact. It doesn’t matter much if the object of your scorn is lacking legs or not. If it has a head and teeth, watch the fark out.

 

 

 

 


Toxic Birdies

I usually spend one day per week at the manufacturing plant for the company I work for. The plant is located in Newark, NJ, a city notorious for, among other things, pollution and toxicity. The plant is unnervingly close to one of the flight paths of Newark International Aeropuerta. As it turns out, the ancient creek that runs through the middle of the plant is a Superfund site – none of which are good for the health of any living thing.

The plant itself manufactures chemicals in the form of liquids and powders, mostly by combining other chemical liquids and powders (‘better living through chemistry’). As in any manufacturing process, a certain amount of product gets into the surrounding ecosystem (if you can call the area around a chemical plant such) through spills, dust clouds, exhaust pipes, etc.

Now, let’s not get the wrong idea here. Modern society needs chemicals of all sorts and what better place to manufacture these substances than in the industrial section of an industrial city? Keep it all in one place, I say. It just seems like a good plan.

In addition to all of that is the jet engine exhaust constantly blanketing the entire area from above, like the polar opposite of ‘mana from Heaven’. So, the bushes, trees and grasses, the litter on the ground, the very dirt itself, is contaminated with one sort of poison or another.

But Nature always finds a way. Trees, plants and grasses grow all around. So does a certain cross section of animal life. You can tell they are not the healthiest specimens of their kind, but they have eked out an existence for themselves.

There is a small gathering of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) that live in and around the plant. Not enough to call a flock, they tend to be in small groups. They seem happy enough, always chirping, flying around, eating seeds and bugs, crapping on car windshields and doing whatever else it is that small birds do.

Because they have small brains (bird-brains), they have no clue that everything they eat, touch, drink and nest in has some level of chemical in it – toxic or otherwise. Not that they have much choice in the matter or could do much about it. They are truly a product of their environment. Thus, by extrapolation (and exposure), they are toxic themselves.

Toxic birdies.

There are other creatures in the area – cats, rats, mice and bugs – that crawl around at ground level, absorbing whatever chemical du juor is present. Some of those creatures eat the toxic birdies and thus are toxic themselves.

So the toxic bugs eat the toxic leaves of the toxic trees. Then the toxic birdies come along and eat the toxic bugs and toxic seeds and every so often die (of toxicity). Then the toxic rat and/or mouse comes along and eats the toxic carcass of the the expired toxic birdie, after which the toxic feral cat with the one eye and malformed tail catches and eats the toxic rat, then takes a toxic crap that gets infested with toxic maggots that turn into toxic flies that the toxic birdie eats.

A vicious (and toxic) cycle, indeed.


RAT Traps

Costs about a dollar

I was hanging at the bar the other day, staring mindlessly at the television, because there wasn’t much else to look at. The Three Stooges were on. Although not a huge Stooges fan, I know they are good comedy. At some point in the act, one of them gets a hand (foot, face, ass, whatever) snapped in a rat trap, or two.

Not a mouse trap, a RAT trap.

RAT traps. Oh, yes, RAT traps. The device that launched my youthful trapping career.

For the uninitiated, a rat trap is soooo much more than an over-sized mouse trap. The Stooges don’t give them the respect they deserve. Respect that is earned by working with, toiling over and making critical errors in judgement with them. Whereas a mouse trap closing on your fingers will wake your ass up, post-haste, and maybe sting a little, a RAT trap could well break a couple digits.

 

Notice how big, as compared to the thumb

Notice how big, as compared to the thumb

Just setting the damned thing alerts you that you are working with something that can cause some serious injury. The torsion on the spring needs to be dealt with as you crank back the breaker bar, hold it down while you flip the arm over and latch it on the small trigger that is cut on the pedal. (Remember to bait FIRST, set SECOND).

There are some very pensive seconds while you carefully, carefully pull your fingers back and hope the trap doesn’t decide to snap of its own accord. Which happens, occasionally.

It’s all in the technique. You hold the base of the trap in the palm of your hand and work the bar back with the other hand, latching it with the thumb of the first hand. Set the trigger with the free hand and Viola! Done. And safe.

The difference between a mouse trap and a RAT trap is most notably scale. That, and the damage done, not to the rodent du jour, but to your less than nimble and/or impaired, trap-setting fingers.

It’s like the difference between a mouse and a RAT. A mouse, for the most part, can be dealt with, or not, depending on the pressing matters of the day. They are usually nothing more than annoying.

RATS are dangerous, pestilence carrying, scaly-tailed, beady-eyed, sludge-dwelling, gutter varmints that bite. They need to be dealt with immediately, permanently and with extreme prejudice, preferably with FIRE or HOT LEAD (if aforementioned options can be responsibly deployed, which is usually not the case).

Step in the Victor RAT trap.

Build a better mouse (RAT) trap, and the world will beat a path to your door?

Why bother? The one’s we have work pretty damn good.

mouseratcomp


Groundhog Day 2015

Bite me!

Bite me!

It would seem that at least one groundhog had enough of being dragged out of hibernation and forced into making a prediction on the arrival of Spring. Some ‘town father’ (asshat) up in Wisconsin leaned in to hear what the fat weasel had to say for itself and promptly got bitten on the ear.

Score one for the rodent.

The mayor, clutching his damaged lobe, then proclaimed that Spring would be early this year. Keep in mind this is in Wisconsin, a northern-most state with the (mostly frozen) Lake Michigan snuggling up on its right side and Lake Superior giving it a headbutt.

Closer to home, Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania’s celebrity ground weasel, indicated that there would be six more weeks of winter. In my backyard, there were no woodchuck sightings (and there damn well better not be).

So, in my own style, let me say a few things to the mayor (I realize that you may be hard of hearing, but I will refrain from using CAPS).

  •  We don’t ‘listen’ to the groundhog. He predicts of his own accord.
  • If Pennsylvania is predicting six more weeks of winter, Wisconsin will certainly experience at least the same, if not more.
  • Spring will always arrive between the 20 and 22 of March, regardless of what your resident weasel-chuck predicts. Nothing short of a catastrophic asteroid strike on the earth will change that.
  • Don’t put your fat head near the fat rodent. He is every bit as grumpy as you would be if woken up from a peaceful slumber.

That will be all.


Rodents are like squash

A pile of friggin' squash

A pile of friggin’ squash

As is well documented here, rodents are not highly regarded. Not that they should be. After all, their gnawing, nesting, crawling around in dark places, pestilence carrying and general squeaky chitter-chatter are not endearing.

And let’s not get started on that tail.

On the hierarchical scale of things, rodents occupy the base levels. Somewhat above bugs; flying, stinging or otherwise, but quite lower than, say, a cute puppy or a furry kitten. Even a squawking bird is a rung or two higher.

Rodents are the mammalian equivalent of squash – they have their place in the grand scheme of things, but you would reach for a potato or the creamed spinach long before the roasted spaghetti squash.

One can easily see why rodents take the brunt of human dislike. No one wants a rodent around anymore than they want a steaming plate of poached pumpkin or baked Hubbard squash on the dinner table.

Rodents, just like pumpkins, squash or gourds, make great targets. I can recall several times when the Birdcrew would purchase a few select sized pumpkins specifically for that purpose. Squash holds up quite well to marble strikes, bullets and arrows. You can use them over and over again. When you’re done, you can smash them, thus getting out some inner aggression, or you can throw them into the fire. Few people (that I know of) would have a problem with either a squash or a rodent being on the receiving end of a projectile.

Just like squash, rodents are filled with yucky stuff. And they tend to linger – like that pumpkin that you leave on the front porch around Halloween. It slowly deflates into a leaking compost display until it needs to be picked up with a snow shovel. That, or you can wait until a hard freeze then chisel it off the step.

The mouse whacked by the trap in the garage will stay there until it starts to smell, or the wife screeches about it. By then it will be somewhat less plump than when it was first discovered.

Seems like there is always a rodent poking around somewhere – the mouse in the garage, the groundhog under the shed, chipmunks in the shrubbery, moles, voles and shrews in the backyard.

Rodents and squash come in all sorts of varieties. The better to fool you with. Acorn, butternut, Hubbard, turban, spaghetti, goose neck, pumpkin, green, yellow, summer, winter – all squash.

Rats, mice, squirrels, woodchucks, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, chipmunks, moles, voles, shrews, capybara – all rodents.

Can a squash kill a rodent? I think so. If you were to hit a mouse with, say, a 2 lb. butternut squash, I’d bet you would smoke it but good.


Bait

Hey Birdwell, what’s the can of dog food for?

I have not owned or operated a hound for some time now, upwards of 20 years. So it strikes some folks as odd that I would pull a can of dog food out of my pre-excursion grocery bag.

I understand. Dog food purchased usually equates to a dog that needs to be fed. And in case anyone is not familiar with how I feel about feeding dogs, see this blog post –

But that is not the case. (you expected otherwise?). You see, canned dog food stinks. I mean it smells, bad, unappetizing, gross. However, those same adjectives are exactly what makes it appealing to lesser animals – dogs, cats, or, for the sake of this blog entry – foxes, racoons, opossums and skunks. In other words VARMINTS.

Split open a can of Mighty Dog (beef liver with savory herbs in cream sauce), fling it around at the edge of camp, load up the rifle and sit back. It might take an hour or two, but rest assured, something will smell that crap and come running, bib on, drooling and hungry.

Screw the Road Runner. Something smells…

 

Not only is it good for land animals, catfish seem to like it, too. Drop a perforated can of Ken L Ration (turkey parts with giblet gravy and autumn vegetables) on the end of a string into the river a few days prior to showing up with your fishing gear. Fish smell the dog food and congregate around the area, nibbling on the small chunks that leak out. When it’s time to fish, pull out the can and drop in a chicken liver impaled on a #6 hook.

charliethetuna

Charlie the Tuna – displeased, as usual.

 

It is cost effective. I can get a couple of cans for less than a buck. I might even do better at the dollar store, but I never think that far ahead.

Let me tell you, nothing livens up an evening around camp like having some critter foraging around the outskirts within firing range. Of course, there is always the chance that a skunk will be the varmint du jour, but that isn’t a big deal so long as you are more than 25 feet away and up wind. Then again, the wind tends to change time to time and distances can be distorted due to mitigating factors, like alcohol.

Yeah, once in a while one of the neighborhood hounds shows up and eats it all, then marks the area (bastard).

No, I don’t shoot at it with the gun, that is someone’s pet, after all.

I use the slingshot.


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