Fair Chase and Willful Blindness

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Do Animals Really Care About Fair Chase?  Dead is dead. Only survival matters before that.  Pursuit and manner of death is only significant to those who give chase. Human killers attain value and meaning by applying ethics and morals to their own behaviors when reducing other life forms to possession.

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It is these very ethics and morals that underscore major competition for various quarry that heavily influence the bio-politcs in our halls of bureaucracy  However, on a finite planet with limited carrrying capacities, sustainability of resource extraction and unlimited growth patterns is of far more concern than bickering between myopic user groups.

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Access is the name of the game for hunters and fishermen. In the caligraphy of who gets what, when, where, and how, it is ever-more rule books and regulations to meet the rising tide of interest. It’s all math in the end.

Ground zero to determine who gets what, and by what means, is the ethics we use to promote which voice gets listened to the most.  Morals is more about what guides us  as to which species deserve to live or die, especially when it comes to the predator-prey dance.  Calibrating importance is all relative to ones’s perspective and personal history.

In the animal world, just living another day is the main law of the jungle.  Which is fastest or more cunning is the critical factor to them.  To humans, what fundamentally matters is that there is always a viable population of something to optimally maintain. Otherwise, there will be nothing left to ethicise or moralize  over.

Unfortunately, ethics is the battle-club of the various user-group gladiators when fighting for a  bite from the only resource pie in town. While the science of wildlife management is about ecology and population dynamics, distribution of the pie is more related to sociology and the politics of consumption. Basically, ethics and morals is the dominionists architecture for the Manifest Destiny of man over nature.

As a conservationist, environmentalist, or hunter concerned about ethical behavior, there is an ever-present  danger to mount a high horse of morality.  It is too easy to fall into the jaws of the “holier-than-thou” personal value trap. Such a hubris high horse throws  a mean buck  to those with little tolerance for others and ends up with an ugly landing.

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Should a rifle killed elk during the rut be listed in Pope and Young?  Do we keep or release fish? Use bait or fly, single hook or treble? Hunt with gun or bow? Trap, snare, or poison? Trophy or meat hunt?  Float in, or jet?  Go by foot, horse, or atv? Allow survellience by plane or drone?   On and on.

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How much effort we exercise in using collaboration and cooperation when competing for limited resources, will help define our behavior and what agreements we can make as we go about extraction.  Methods we use to get what we want also matters, because magnitude of impact is highy varied by which type of big stick we use.

Each carries a different potential and variance in the severity of harvest regulations and seasonal length that can result.  Animal behavior is greatly modified by human endeavors  and equity between users is thus ripe for squeaky oil favoritism and much strife.

However, while we struggle to divvy up the resource, the bigger threat is always about what happens to the habitat. Every time we lose more ground, that reduces carrying capacities and essentially the very fish and wildlife resources we wish to save.  The pie never gets any bigger.

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Preindustrial people’s had a hard time appropriating land use and often undermined their own carrying capacities because of limited knowledge and tools. We don’t have that excuse with today’s sophistication, so to deny ecological science and continue depleting resources that also escalate climate change is a blantant and wilfull blindness to the future. Nature never loses sight. Only man’s arrogance and choice of apathy does that.

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It is far better to join forces to fight for habitat, clean air and water,  and to rein in our own numbers than to squabble over fairchase and have turf wars, while the hungry lions of industry are busy consuming the land. Such action is more like rowing upstream to keep from going over a waterfall when a giant Sequoia is falling toward your backside.

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As we try to keep our boat of natural resources right side up, perhaps we should pay closer attention to our science and saddle it with a more appropriate attitude:

TIPIS

Gary Lane
Wapiti River Guides
http://www.doryfun.com

 

 

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The Beauty of a Circle

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Jack’s send off ceremony was held on Oct 13, 2013 on the Salmon River, ten miles upriver, at the giant eddy at Spring Bar Launch and Campsite.  This was and continues to be an ancient Nez Perce place of importance, but now more of a bi-cultural mixing grounds where all those who truly love this place often gather.

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After ending our sacred boat circles at the Spring Bar Eddy on the Salmon River, in tribute to our passing river friend Jack Kappas, the power of circular motion continued on.  I learned later that while a few people shared more stories around a shore side campfire after our more official ceremony, other friends were fishing below the sacred eddy as their chosen way of extending memories. They hooped and hollered when they caught 5 fish, as they were listening softly to ipod music, Jack would have liked, and felt his help urging steelhead to bite their lines, was with them.

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In addition, when Charlie and Lesile headed homeward, they spotted a bald eagle sitting on the rocks at Hippie Beach, which then flew upriver towards Spring Bar. They too felt like it was Jack heading back upriver again, keeping an eagle eye on the river he loved and friends who loved him. Perhaps that eagle’s flight was part of the help for those fishermen upriver and their prized steelhead.

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The day after our memorial three of us (Kristin, Barb, and me)  that were also close friends with Jack, gave his  “Uncle Ernie”, a  tour of the canyon and showed him a few of Jack’s favorite places.  He felt bad that he had never visited our area to take advantage of Jack’s many invites to get him on the river. But, we assured him he was now here and fulfilling that need, all the same, though in different form, Jack would be happy.

Before we left the canyon we had one more final tribute to pay, as the two girls forgot to get Vic’s (Jack’s favorite chocolate lab ) hair and a few fragmented bones that Jack had saved after his dog  drowned in the Salmon River, and I forgot my drum for our original ceremony, so we gathered at the side of the sacred eddy to complete or intended circle of both in a special riverside ceremony.

After entering Vic to the river, then some drumming with three last solitary beats, one each for the 3 ceremonial  boat circles, as Nez Perce consider that number sacred, ending with one moment of silence. Astonishingly, but not surprisingly,  a fish jumped near where Vic had been entered to re-join Jack.  It reminded me of a favorite  quote: “Silence is the voice of the Great Mystery” and how mystery permeates everything in nature.

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A couple of days later I took Charlie fishing upriver, and we had a wonderful day on the water. We shared many stories, about Jack, other river friends, and a gamut of subjects. Kirk was also fishing below us, and I had to tell Charlie about some “Wapiti Moments” that Kirk and I had on the Grande Ronde years ago, along with the original 5 (including Jack) of us who attended the ground-zero salmon and dam breaching hearings in Lewiston years ago.

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The day was long and we did not see Kirk again until end of the day when we both arrived at the ramp about the same time. the three of us shared more stories about Jack, those crazy “wapiti moments” (when things go south, and ingenuity kicks in for survival) and other pertinent things that tie river people together, especially this special  place in the canyon.  We all have  our own life circles and stories, and as we ended our fishing day united at the ramp from our separate loops, did we yet come full circle again as the sun slowly set into the far beyond.  We all had smiles on our faces, just as the ancients smiled down on us. Knowing all the while, with each new day, all  those smiles will soon be returning.

Great beauty is truly found in the circle.

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Erosion is the way of nature.

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Roll on river, roll on.

Cadillac Tar Sands – Megaloads & Scenic Rivers

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Like water, oil runs uphill towards money and not far behind it is rude and crude corporatocracy on the chase at all costs. No obstacle seems too large for big oil’s search for the black gold. No rules too big to break, as megaloads push north for the Canadian Tar Sands along Idaho’s  beautiful Clearwater & Lochsa River waterway. How quick the loss of memory about how the Nez Perce befriended and helped Lewis & Clark down this magnificent drainage in 1805 on the old Nez Perce trail. Yet today, that same trail, now Highway 12 through reservation lands  is taken for granted by conglomerated giants of industry for access to the new pot of gold, regardless of the needs and interests of the Nez Perce people.

This same avarice was the motivation behind early gold miners quick to trespass into Nez Perce lands after being supposedly protected by the 1855 Treaty. It is no mystery why land and boundary disputes soon arose and morphed into new treaty negotiations with aboriginals in an attempt  to reduce the size of Nez Perce reservation lands.  This led eight years later to the 1863 treaty that was not a fair transaction from the get go and eventually escalated to the epic saga of Chief Joseph and the War of 1877.

Not much seems to have changed over the years. Now, in 2013 The take-over of Highway 12 by Corporatocracy is akin to the 1863 Steal Treaty, as certain historians and Nimiipuu people refer to it, when the US Gov’t grabbed Nez Perce lands by the standard instrument (treaty) used to fulcrum title to native lands.  Our republic’s legacy of breached treaties and repeated betrayals is the nefarious way the west was won.  Early European sprawl used the  doctrine of Manifest Destiny and god sanctioned dominion over native people and the natural world, as the Christian justification for spreading roots and usurping control. 

So in a country gained by lawlessness and coercion, yet  brags about being a democracy, while also having a double system of justice, one for the elites and one for the commoner, what else would one expect in  a land consumed by  such historic hypocrisy, unbalanced disparity, and ruthless genocide?

The latest push by the megaloads up Highway 12, in ignorance of consultation with federal and domestic sovereigns, is yet another example of running rough-shod over communities of people with the industrial nose stuck high in the sky and snorting into the air the snot of arrogance and superiority.

To claim that a river corridor has enough beauty to give it wild and scenic status, then treat it as if an ugly step sister, is like giving someone a gun for protection, but not giving them any bullets.  What use are designations, if rules used to established and protect these values  are ignored and not enforced?  Part of the reason the white man gained an early  reputation of having a forked tongue, is that they often failed to walk their talk.

In an anti-federal state like Idaho, our leaders like to stir the states rights and privatization pot with a forked stick to match their tongues when it comes to scientific truths about natural resources and land use practices, along with  their inept social integrity and dishonor in dealing with treaty obligations.    Responsible negotiations with Domestic Sovereigns?  What be that? Scorched Earth and Acculturation is still alive and well in Idaho.  Only now, authoritative policies circumscribe an even larger circle of people, trying to herd them into the center for better control, often by questionable and illegal means.

With a world view of dominion over nature, our culture sets about trying to control nature, but ends up mostly breaking down and fragmenting various ecological niches, which then requires looking for alternative ways to fix them. From endangered salmon to greenhouse gases and extreme carbon footprints,  if lessons could  ever be learned from history and native cultures world view to co-exist within  a more harmonic framework of community-connections to all nature, instead of totalitarian attitudes about keeping it controlled and reined in for selfish gain,  the world would be a better place for it.

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But, elites have a good way of convincing the commoners that they have their best interest at heart, yet are mostly out of touch with reality of ground truths pertaining to the natural economy and ultimate carrying capacities. They revel in their personal privilege while simultaneously escaping responsibility for exhausting and polluting most natural resources in the process of accumulating exponential wealth. This drives the compound interest of environmental degradation debt ever skyward and closer yet to the edge of no-return. (the humpty dumpty effect – as proven over and over  again by many great societies of the past). Once broken, it is difficult to put back together again, and on a finite planet you can’t just always expect to find good solutions over the next hill, because it may be the last one.  

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 Small changes happening incrementally may give the false impression little things don’t matter. But collectively, through time, all grass eventually turns to brown, though it happens too slow to see until it all finally makes the transformation.

  Stand together

 “It only takes one rock to start an avalanche.”

The Power of Place

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In nature, certain places have a special power to pull in one’s soul.  The mystery of why these types of places have such a magical feel to the traveler that discovers them, may never be adequately expressed by words. Just as photos can never adequately paint a picture of those same areas. Only the human in real world experience can feel such things.  To me, the Owyhee River in SE Oregon, is one of those places that continues to suck me in each spring when the snow begins to melt.

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It is a time I relish, because this desert river only provides enough water to float in the spring time.   It is also a fickle time of year weather-wise, which in turn affects flows and boating. Crossing fingers, doing a sundance or raindance, maybe an incantation or two, and a lot of hoping help describe the waiting times for floating this river.

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For me, aside from winter steelhead fishing by driftboat, the Owyhee is the first extended, multi-day river trip we begin to run each year. It is our kick-off to another whitewater season, so it also means a lot of elbow grease working on boats and rafts to get the dust and cobwebs off.  The water levels of the Owyhee dictate which type of craft we will take, as hard boats do not do well in very low water conditions. Wood and rock are not a good mix when it comes to floating.   Rafts are better, but in extreme low flows, size of those critters are critical too.  Trying to squeeze a 7′ wide raft through a 6′ wide slot, is in the realm of a magic trick gone bad.

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Having floated this river for around 40 years worth of trips now, my back log of stories includes lots of personal relationships with a lot of rocks, hard places, and some experiences I am glad are behind me.  A lot of images come to my mind as I work on boats and visualize up coming adventures.  These same extreme experiences have given me a good backlog to evaluate water conditions and develop cut-off levels for determining what kind of boat or raft I will take for the next trip.  Reducing risk for potential problems from day one is the name of the game for minimizing problems and having more time to enjoy the canyon, rather than pulling rafts off rocks or putting bad dings in hardboats.

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So far, based on rare evidence of other party wreckage and carnage, I have been pretty lucky not to have the worst nightmare stories to tell, and I plan to keep it that way, as much as possible. Those kind of stories are better for someone else to have and tell. But, I do whisper all this, nare the river might hear my words and reciprocate by playing  tricks on me.

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But as I work on boats getting them shined up for the Owyhee, I can feel the river’s pull from this high desert sage plateau. I can even smell the pungent sage and feel the desert breeze wafting its aromatics across the wide expanses.  It is hard to put a finger precisely on just what that magic is that contains such a power.  It’s only a feel, and one must go there to really know what that really means.  All I know is that it exists, is real for me, and that it is calling now. Only a few more suns for trip number one on the Owyhee and soon magic will be all around as each oar grabs another foot of downstream progress.

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Always room for more

http://www.doryfun.com

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Who Needs A Guide?

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No one, and everyone, is the finely distilled answer.  If you could ask Lewis and Clark what value a guide has, you would soon discover how important their guides were to the success of their mission.  For example, on the 1806 return trip in June, Lewis and Clark had great apprehension about crossing the snow-covered mountains in ID/MT without guides. They felt they could not cross without them and luckily were  able to persuade  Speaking Eagle, Black Eagle, and Ahs-kahp, who were three of the very best Nez Perce guides to lead their way. Of course, these were not their only guides, as Sacagawea also played a huge role in leading them a good part of their distance in uncharted territories.

These  Indian guides were as excited about leading the expedition then, as guides of today often get when taking modern people into some of the same  rugged and beautiful landscapes that continue to drop jaws.  The Nez Perce were paid with guns which made their hunting easier, while guides today get paid in money which  make their livelihoods possible. Though the more esteemed value to both types  of guides was deeply felt in the heart and spirit where no material things can be taken.  What is life really about, if not to get out and see what there is to see and to share with others the utter magic that it represents to all ?

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But, in the process of getting out and seeing things we have never seen before, it is only reasonable to find a good guide. It can be a writing guide, or human guide, but in either case it is the information and knowledge they contain that we seek. Sure, anyone can go out on their own without consulting any form of guide for true unadulterated exploration. But, aside from that goal, guides help us save time and offer more opportunities to see cooler things we might otherwise miss.  It takes a large chunk of time to make your own trial and error path trying to negotiate any new jungle.  The learning curve is greatly reduced by piggy-backing off someone elses  consumption of time to figure things out.

Even guides consult other guides, maps, guidebooks, and any source that might provide additional insights into becoming more intimate to an area. Whether it is new country, or a different perspective in familiar country, one can never learn too much.  So while some say adventure is not the map, it is still true that a  map  has an advantage to make the adventure less risky and time effective endeavor.  Dead end trails eat away time and back-tracking efforts can sometimes even be cause for missing a final planned destination when time runs out.

Hidden dangers, and dangers not even suspected to be dangers that are known to guides, but not the uninitiated, can mean the difference between failure or success, or in extreme cases life and death.  All through time humans have sought the advice of guides. From soothsayers to Youtube, people continue to seek some kind of source to guide their way forward through the world.

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As a river guide, I often find myself in places such as where  the Nez Perce guides of yester-year once stood, in awe of their surroundings. Like a special place in the mountains where Speaking Eagle, Black Eagle, and Ahs-kahp stopped before a rock Caryn built by their ancestors to remind other travelers to pause and wonder at the meaning of their world.  It is said that the voice of Itsi-yai-ayi, or spiritual Coyote, would sometimes speak to those who listen:

“Frail Human, standing tall with head near the stars above,

Proud-standing, with feet on the birthing-place of rivers,

Safely have you come thus far through these mountains.

How could you tell which way to go?

Looking up, what do you see? Nothing but sky.

Looking down, deep canyons.

Behind – mountains. To right and to left – mountains.

Looking ahead – mountains. Mountains as far as eyes can see.

You, who are a mere Human! How can you find your way?

Something Greater than you has been your Guide.”

 

Who floats your boat?

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See www.doryfun.com for guided adventure.

Happy Valentines Mother Nature.

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When Nature Speaks, Are You Listening?

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Nature is like a radio station that has many channels. But to hear different flavored songs or messages you have to change the channel. Just because you don’t hear a  country  western song doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it just means you don’t hear it.  To do so, you simply must change the tuner to another location where it resides.

What you tune into is greatly influenced by where you live and what kind of distractions draw your attention.  Cities offer different stimulus than rural or country settings. Even global positioning, cultural differences, and political ideologies  can determine our perceptions of the world. But what they all have in common is that none of them can escape the umbrella of nature.  Those cultures that live closer to nature, often have  more compassion for it, as they can feel the changes and patterns of the elements from their simple mode of direct engagement with it.

Often the consumptive nature of industrial nations are so busy going about business they forget about their ecological impacts and footprints. They are too busy establishing  more walls around themselves and building an environment of isolation from nature.  When you can no longer feel something, it is easy to lose compassion for it.

Sometimes nature carries a big stick to let us know Mother Earth is the Whip Woman. When her children become too rambunctious, she uses discipline to rein them in.  Unfortunately, the club sometimes used comes in the form of a tsunami, earthquake, mudslide, volcano, tornado, or hurricane. Violent storms often deliver these various kinds of blows, and  are a wake-up call to those who survive the aftermath.  Lessons learned by the survivors  can help people make better choices about how to  build their dwellings and where to locate them for  the future. Even re-locating ravaged cities to safer zones can be improved when people pay close attention to natures language.

As Hurricane Sandy so rudely reminded us, we have ignored nature and the warnings of our own scientists for too long. Pay back for inattention is  punishing and terribly harsh.  Often ideological policies can be a signficant contributor to our impacts to nature. Some are more harmful to others, especially the ones that ignore or deny the science that lays out measurable evidence that is readily available to those who study and read nature.

The law of the land is not the same as the law of nature. Man made laws are placed to cover human endeavors. Nature’s law is totalitarian and inescapable.  When man’s law ignore nature’s, it  often leads to horrific  consequences.  Climate change is no longer debated, though the reasons for it still are. Is it just another random quirk of nature, or is global warming induced by man? When a majority of scientists from a consortium of disciplines with peer-reviewed evidence that contain the same message, continue to jump on the same band wagon, I want on, too. Contrarians are sometimes right, but the chances are not high enough for me to get on a wagon heading for the edge of the cliff.

When there is an elephant in the room, it would be prudent to pay attention to it, not pretend it isn’t there. It has big feet. They hurt when they land on you. That is, if you live to tell about it, anyway.

Everyone who is not a politician or pundit, seems to recoil and despise politics, but denying its influence is like denying science. Volunteered, willful  ignorance can have serious consequences.  Elephants mean business.  When humans have a chance to participate in a political process, it is important to take that community responsibility seriously and get in the game.  The players in a game, not the bystanders, determine the outcome of the game.

It does make a difference who you vote for.  Policy matters. Climate change, though pitifully ignored during the election campaigning, is a huge elephant ready to make a huge leap.  There is no more denial about our changing climate, though there still is denial about the science that overwhelmingly contains evidence to support that the change is man caused.  Ignoring the math and statistics that fuel the conclusion  the majority of our scientists are telling us, come with a huge price tag.  They could be wrong, as science is not about absolutes.   It is more about ever chasing truth and the pursuit of best case evidence. It only changes when the evidence changes. Pay attention.  The election is over, but the game isn’t.  Every day, dawn reveals a new horizon.  Watch nature. Follow the sun and bird chirp. Listen up.

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