Saturday, November 1, 2008

Laying low

Here's to them that shoot and miss.

—old falconer's toast

Looks like another day for football and politics: Stekoa caught a rabbit yesterday, and I took the opportunity to feed him up and spend the day mostly indoors. The gun season for pheasant and quail opened last weekend, but hunter success was relatively low due to a late harvest—many gamebirds are still in standing corn and soybean fields—and with sunshine and temps in the 70s expected this weekend, I suspect many of the fair-weather shooters will be in the field for another try.

I should point out that it's specifically the fair-weather shooters I fear. Any bird-hunter still at it in December or January is obviously dedicated, probably knows what he or she is shooting at, and hopefully has enough ecological sense not to see hawks as a threat to gamebird populations. But the eighty to ninety percent of small-game permit holders who venture afield only in the early season make me fear not just for Stekoa's safety but also for my own. Hunter-safety education has reduced the number of fools who shoot at movement or even sound without positively identifying their targets, but it hasn't eliminated them. My caution, not to say paranoia, was reinforced when a pheasant hunter got Dick Cheneyed just last weekend near Valparaiso. And hawks always catch hell during the early season, as evidenced by surging admissions at Raptor Recovery Nebraska (which obviously account for only a small percentage of the hawks shot).

This time of year, I'll hunt early on a weekday, but no amount of blaze orange will convince me to risk a beautiful Saturday like this. So:

  • Air Force at Army. Guess I'll root for Air Force, though my dad was ROTC, not Academy, and couldn't possibly care less about football, anyway.... Hmmm, maybe I'll watch Kansas vs. Kansas State instead.
  • Florida vs. Georgia, which remains the world's largest outdoor cocktail party no matter what SEC officials may say or do. Go Dogs!
  • Tennessee at South Carolina, a chance for Vols fans everywhere to revile Steve Spurrier.
  • Nebraska at Oklahoma, a slightly-tarnished but still classic rivalry. Go Big Red!

Enjoy the weekend, and be safe.

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