Thursday, July 31, 2014

The results are in..

Earlier this week the results from the first ever national dove hunters survey were released. A collaborative effort between the USFWS, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and the National Flyway Council, the study appears to be a stab at taking the temperature of the dove hunting community. You may have received one of the questionnaires (I did, and yes, I did fill it out). Approximately 30,000 were mailed and about 12,600 were returned.  Those targeted were selected at random from state HIP databases.

Most of the reported results fell short of anything shocking, not that there was a reason to expect otherwise. There were a few interesting bits, though. The average age of respondents was 45, which could mean that teens and early twenties hunters didn't get the survey or didn't have time to fill it out (kids lead such busy lives these days), or it could mean that there just aren't many younger dove hunters. One of those would be bad.

More than half filling out the survey travel at least 50 miles to hunt. That's either a lot of dedication or a way to stretch the time out of the house a bit longer.

And to quote from the FAQ, "More than 85% of respondents “mostly” or “always” use lead shot to hunt doves, and the majority believe that lead shot substitutes are too expensive." If you don't think lead substitutes are expensive, you're probably hunting in Argentina anyway. The switch to non-toxic shot for dove is out there on the horizon somewhere and in the meantime I'll either become a better shot or figure out which day of the week I won't eat.

You can read the full results here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thermometer games

Every few years or so we get lucky and catch a spell of cooler days right in the middle of summer.  Cool as in low 60s when you wake up and maybe mid-70s when the sun's up top. May not sound like much but it's sure welcome when 95 is the norm.

Watching fireworks on the 4th I told my wife that I couldn't remember doing that without fighting the urge to stare at them through the windshield, A/C on full. And there was a breeze to boot. The next morning we had coffee in the backyard, a ritual normally reserved for April or, if we're lucky, early May.

Saturday the temps were cool again and it even rained all day, just like it does in some other seasons I know of. Mother Nature is such a tease.

And then last week the bird hunting issue of Gray's hit the shelves. New names mostly, which is nice every so often. I couldn't help noticing that there wasn't a bobwhite story anywhere in in. Great. Now they've disappeared from Gray's, too.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hurricanes and duck stamps

The plan was to spend some time in Charleston, daylight hours on the beach and evenings sampling a few of the many dining establishments, in celebration of my bride's 40th. The dining establishment part was appealing. Sitting on the beach for two days, tempting the skin cancer gods, well.....

Mother Nature to the rescue. Thursday morning broke to showers and a 25 knot wind courtesy of Arthur, the first named storm of the season, and just enough to make the beach unappealing. The birthday girl decided to meet a friend at a Pilates class instead. Yeah I know, but it's her birthday and it would likely keep me out of any number of antique stores. So there I was in the Holy City with several hours on my hands and not one thing to do but wander around.

Downtown Charleston is a swarm of retail stores of all flavors, historic buildings dating back to the early days of our country, restaurants at every turn, and art galleries. Dozens and dozens of art galleries.

Art has always been a bit of an enigma to me, especially when it comes to placing a value on it. What makes one example of paint on canvas worth millions while another struggles to find demand at any price? Simple economics play a role, certainly, but perception seems to drive demand at least as much as supply. If it tickles someone's fancy enough to make him pay a high price, it has instant value to the rest of the art world and instantly lands out of my modest reach. As such, I tend to stay out of art galleries.

Unless, being captive in a city with more art galleries than fire hydrants, I wander by a window with 'Dog and Horse' on it.

Just inside the entrance hung 9 framed pieces of original duck stamp art. Done by several different artists, they dated from the '40s, '50s and '60s and, at least in the in opinion of the owner, are worth about as much as a brand new pickup with all the fixins.

Original duck stamp art collection for sale in Charleston gallery

The asking price on the collection is $50,000 and the owner prefers that it be sold as a set and not broken into individual works. Having spent my last $50,000 at Dunkin Donuts a few hours earlier, I was not a player as I gazed at this cut of waterfowling history. They were nice drawings, some intricately detailed and others more intent on action, but I have to say that none moved me, and I for art to have any value beyond mere investment it really should spark some feeling inside. Anger, longing, amazement, exuberance, even shock, anything that grabs your emotions by the collar and shakes them a few times when you look at it.

Someone will buy this collection eventually, though, and it will end up in a study or an office or a hunting retreat and people will ooh and ahh over these old, old duck stamp originals. And the next time they are sold, the price will be higher still.