May 27, 2020

Search Results for: winter ticks

Media/Fish and Game Joke of the Year

If the folks at WMTWTV.com had only waited a few more days (or was it the folks at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife?), they could have made this a great April Fool’s day spoof.

On March 25, at around 11:00am, the WMTWTV.com website put up a headline and a brief quip saying that later that day the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) was planning to share how the severe Maine winter has affected the deer herd. The headline and teaser, which is now gone on their site, looked like this:

Biologists to release winter’s effect on deer population
WMTW Portland-by Paul Merrill-1 hour ago
Biologists with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife analyzed deer population data on Monday and are going to share their findings with …

Later that same day at 5:52 pm, WMTWTV.com published an article as a follow-up to the announcement that Maine biologists were going to “share their findings” of how bad the winter has been on deer. The report offered no such thing. This was what MDIFW and the report offered:

Maine state biologists said they expect to issue fewer permits to deer hunter later this year.

The reason? The long, cold snowy winter has done a number on the state’s deer population.

Even though this report goes on to talk about how biologists in Augusta and beginning their normal process of sifting through data to determine how many “Any-Deer Permits” to issue next season (this is done, they say, as a tool to manipulate deer populations in different Wildlife Management Districts) there is NOTHING here about the severe winter, other than to say fewer permits will be issued.

This is either poor reporting or MDIFW’s attempt at setting the stage for another round of excuses as to why deer hunting in Maine stinks.

Perhaps it’s time for a “new understanding and paradigm shift” about how deer can no longer survive in Maine because of global warming. You see, according to the Algorites, Algorism states that both mild winters and severely cold and snowy winters are the result of global warming. In addition, loss of habitat, lack of mast crops, spruce bud worm, deer ticks, Lyme disease, big deer, little deer, not enough deer, too many deer, too many predators, not enough predators, too many turkeys, not enough turkeys, budget shortfalls, lack of Incidental Take Permits, and you can add anything else you want to add, are all caused by global warming.

I hate to seem always critical but damn this kind of stuff is getting really old! How much do we pay these people? As was relayed to me by one reader, “The size of the report reflects the size of the deer herd.” He also said it was equivalent to an elephant [defecating] a pea.

Maybe we should just all give up……oh, wait. Hasn’t that already……..?

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Maine IFW Radio-Collar Moose Research Project Begins

AUGUSTA, Maine – This morning, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife embarked on an intensive 5-year moose research project that will give department biologists an even greater understanding of the health of the Maine moose population, including such keys as adult and calf survival rates and reproductive rates.

“Maine’s moose population is healthy and strong,” said Lee Kantar, the department’s moose biologist. “This research project is an important tool in managing Maine’s moose population, and will benefit all who enjoy Maine’s moose.”

A trained crew that specializes in capturing and collaring large animals is utilizing a helicopter, cartridge-launched nets and immobilization darts to capture and collar female moose and calves in an area located in and around Jackman and Greenville (centered in Wildlife Management District 8).

The plan calls for the crew to capture and collar 30 adult female moose and 30 calves. This area of western Maine was chosen since it is within the core moose range of the state, and earlier research shows that this area already has a lower cow to calf ratio than other parts of the state. The geography and winter conditions of the area are also representative of much of Maine’s moose habitat.

“Capturing more information on female moose and their young is the key to improving our moose management,” said Kantar.

Aero Tech, Inc. specializes in this type of capture and collaring, and recently completed a similar job in New Hampshire. The crew, based out of New Mexico, consists of a team of four, with each having a specialized role in the process.

Kantar, with the assistance of the Maine Forest Service Air Operations Branch, has been scouting and marking GPS coordinates within WMD 8 already. This information will assist Aero Tech in finding moose in this area.

“The Maine Forest Service and their pilots have been extremely helpful in providing flights to locate moose, as well as assisting us with our moose population surveys over the last 4 winters,” said Kantar.

Once collared, the GPS-enabled collars will transmit twice a day, providing biologists the ability to track moose movements. The GPS collars are expected to transmit movement signals for four years. If there is no movement for a certain period of time, the collar transmits a mortality signal, and biologists will then travel by foot to investigate the cause of death.

“Once we receive a mortality signal, we will locate the dead moose within 24 hours,” said Kantar. Where possible, the entire body will be removed to conduct a necropsy in the lab in cooperation with the University of Maine-Animal Health Lab, but if this is not possible, a field necropsy will be conducted.

In May, as females prepare to give birth, movements will also be closely monitored. Once females give birth to calves, biologists will keep a close eye on the young calves.

“After birth, we will use walk-in surveys to monitor calving, as this will give us more information on behavior and mortality,” said Kantar.

This will be the first year of the monitoring study. Additional moose and calves will be captured and collared next year.

This survey is in addition to the research that is already being conducted on Maine’s moose. IFW utilizes aerial flights to assess population and the composition of the moose herd. During the moose hunting season, biologists also examine teeth, the number of ticks a moose carries, and in some cases, examine ovaries to determine reproductive rates.

This will be the second time that moose have been radio-collared in Maine. In the early 1980’s, moose were radio-collared tin order to better understand the range of the moose population.

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Maine’s Projected New Infestation of Spruce Budworm and the Effect on Wild Game

According to Bob Wagner, a forestry professor at the University of Maine, and found in an article in the Bangor Daily News, Maine stands in line for another round of the infestation of the spruce budworm. This worm is a defoliating machine, that during its last war on Maine and the eastern provinces of Canada, it cost these areas millions of dollars in economic losses and the resulting efforts to minimize the effects left the state with hundreds of thousands of acres of clear cuts, done to salvage what timber they could while it was worth something. I’m not sure we have yet to fully understand what happened from the tens of thousands of gallons of insecticide dumped on those forests and what long term effects it may have had on plants, animals and humans.

The questions are already beginning to mount up as to what another round of spruce budworm will do. As an example, one question I have received is what effect this will have on the Canada lynx. I wish I knew. I don’t. I can speculate but mostly just ask questions.

A report I read yesterday in the Bennington Banner said that Canada lynx were on the increase in Northeast Vermont.

The lynx’s favored prey is the snow hare, abundant in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, which also provides the dense forests with a conifer mix where lynx thrive, Maghini said.

History has shown that the Canada lynx will follow the growth and decline of the snowshoe hare. It has been said that the forest clear-cuts from the early-70s into the mid-80s ended up providing ideal habitat for the snowshoe hare. When the hare appeared, so did the Canada lynx. What many surmise is that when the hare disappears, due to loss of ideal habitat, so will the lynx.

So, what will another round of budworm infestation do to the Canada lynx? I suppose with this question, and many more, it much depends upon the severity of the outbreak. One can surmise that if it is true that the last infestation collaterally provided ideal snowshoe hare habitat, in the short term dealing with the worm may have negative effects on the Canada lynx and snowshoe hare, but in the long term, once again we may see the return of ideal habitat for these two creatures.

Another question I was queried about had to do with the moose. Again, my guesses might be similar to those of the Canada lynx and snowshoe hare. Moose seem to thrive in those clear-cuts as they begin to regrow. The plant life available make for a decent diet and the moose generally like open spaces near denser forests.

Presently, the issue that seems to be front and center for moose is the darn winter moose tick. What effect, if any, will a round of spruce budworm have on the winter tick? From my own research, which doesn’t seem to agree with the mainstream and officials accounts, is that the number one determining factor in the severity of ticks ending up on moose, is windy weather. During the time of late summer and early fall the ticks climb vegetation where they will attach themselves to a passing moose. Wind will knock the tick off the vegetation, the result being fewer ticks on moose and fewer ticks that will survive through the winter. Will more clear-cut forests expose ticks to more wind?

Another moose issue that isn’t being talked about is the presence of lungworm, so-called, which in reality is cystic Echinococcus granulosus, or hydatid cysts. Moose are a secondary host of the tiny worm. The worms, from wild canines, are ingested by the moose, resulting in the cysts that appear mostly in their lungs and other organs, i.e. liver, brain, etc. Will a round of spruce budworm increase, decrease, or have no effect on the population of wild canines, therefore having an increase or decrease in moose contracting the cysts? The cysts in moose organs does not necessarily directly kill the moose but can severely limit the animal’s ability to escape predator danger.

Some have described the deer herd in Maine as “recovering” and even “exploding.” Pick whatever adjective you want that makes you feel good. The question that should be on every wildlife biologist’s and deer hunter’s mind is what would a severe round of spruce budworm infestation do to the deer herd? Like the moose, deer find good feed in 2, 3 and 4-year-old clear-cuts. However, too much cutting results in loss of habitat needed to survive the elements of the weather, escape predators, along with other factors involved in the normal everyday of a deer’s life.

It was reported not that long ago, that in 10-15 years, many of those forests that were stripped of trees from the first round of budworm will reach maturity. This is good news but now that we hear about another round of worms, what will become of these mature forests?

It is my opinion that any rebounding Maine has seen in its deer herd comes from 4 or 5 relatively mild winters, following the back to back tough ones that took out a lot of the herd. Would a drastic change in forest habitat coming at a critical time in trying to rebuild a deer herd be devastating to the herd….some more and again? How can we know?

Maine will, more than likely, be facing a referendum in November from radical environmentalists trying to stop bear baiting, bear trapping and hunting bears with hounds. This would effectively remove from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), their ability to use these tools to manage and control the bear population. Some fear that a successful referendum would result in an even greater yearly increase in bear numbers. Such an increase could have devastating effects on the struggling deer population; bears feed on deer fawns in the spring. We should also realize that if the moose herd is also struggling, an overgrown population of bears will reduce recruitment of calf moose and add to the problems. Too many bears present a host of public safety issues.

With all of this in mind, what would a spruce budworm attack do to the bear population? Would the increased vegetation and berry production, most always found in newly stripped out forests, create a spike in the bear population? Would there be a negative effect or none at all?

There are, of course, other issues to discuss concerning the predicted outbreak, i.e. what the environmental movement is going to have to say?; who pays for what to battle this infestation, to name a couple.

Mr. Wagner suggests that Maine start preparing now for the upcoming event. He’s probably right but how do you plan against this attack unless many of these questions were answered back in the 70s and 80s?

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Minnesota’s Deer Harvest Down 12%

*Editor’s Note* – The following are comments/questions compiled by Jim Beers, retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist, in response to an article found in the Star Tribune. Mr. Beers took certain excerpts from the article (numbered below) and responds to them.

By James Beers

(I.)Excluding the late season, hunters killed about 144,000 deer during the main season, down 6 percent from 153,000 in 2012. Overall, Minnesota’s firearms, muzzleloader and archery hunters have registered 164,500 deer as of last Wednesday. Before the season, the DNR had expected hunter success would be similar to 2012, when they killed about 185,000 deer.

Question – How many deer did Minnesota hunters kill in 2012? Was it 153,000 or 185,000? If it is 185,000 and if the most recent count of deer taken is 164,500, the kill is down 12% and not 6%. Since the “general public” doesn’t catch this stuff, the radicals are happy hunting is “on the way out” and the hunters shrug that maybe it really was only bad weather responsible for the decrease. Like moose hunters, deer hunters are headed to the museum thinking it is a field trip and not their final resting place.

(II.)Steve Merchant, the DNR’s wildlife population and regulations manager, said a lower deer population is likely the main reason hunters haven’t fared so well, though the weather was a factor, too.

The season opener was windy, while it was rainy and windy the next weekend. Bad weather can limit deer movement, as well as discourage hunters from spending as much time in their stands. And the deer population was already down because of the harsh winter of 2012-13, which led the agency to reduce the number of does hunters could kill in northern Minnesota.

Question – The DNR “expert” tells us only “a lower deer population is likely the main reason hunters haven’t fared so well”. Not a peep about predation. How does he “know” it wasn’t increasing predation since the DNR “had expected hunter success would be similar to 2012, when they killed about 185,000 deer”? If it was only the tired and worn excuses (minus global warming and ticks) spewed out by the DNR as moose disappeared, ask yourself why the DNR expected “hunter success similar to 2012” even after reducing “the number of does hunters could kill in northern Minnesota.”? This smoke and mirrors gives White House “transparency” a run for its money.

(III,)Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, concurred that the lower deer population is the main factor in the lower harvest. He said success also had a lot to do with the particular area of the state. There have been fewer signs of deer in areas where harvest limits had been set high to bring local populations down, he said. And he said he believes the wolf population is also a factor in northeastern Minnesota.

NOTE: This is an example of a hunter organization (there are many, many more such examples every year) running interference for DNR buddies. Notice that the DNR never mentions wolf predation but this “executive director” does so hunters relax, they have been heard. The DNR stays solid with the radicals and the “director” is buddies with both his deer hunters and his DNR pals. But what does it mean to say he believes “the wolf population is also a factor in northeastern Minnesota.”? What must be done? Who will do it? What does this mean for deer?

(IV.)Johnson said he’s hearing from hunters that they want the state to produce more deer. He said the DNR is likely to respond to that by reducing the antlerless harvest.

NOTE: Wow, his hunters want “more deer” and “the DNR is likely to respond to that by reducing the antlerless harvest”. Why didn’t they try that with moose? I think I will write a thank you letter to Governor Dayton for such responsive government. Future deer success can be expected to mirror recent moose success if wolves are not figured into the equation and dealt with forthrightly – if we are to really have “more deer”.

(V.)This is Minnesota’s second wolf season since the animals came off the endangered list. The DNR lowered the overall target to 220 wolves this time for the two-part season. Hunters killed 88 in the early season. Last year’s overall target was 400, and the final count of wolves killed was 413.

NOTE: Minnesota’s most recent wolf count is 2, 211 (I just love those odd numbers as if the all-but-impossible-to-count wolves were sandhill cranes roosting as a flock on a Platte River sandbar when an aerial photograph is taken and some apprentice biologist sat down with a pin and counted every last one of them in the photo right down to the 211th one!)

For a long list of political reasons, MN, WI, MI, MT, ID, OR, WA et al undercount wolves. This has been true ever since they got into the sack with federal bureaucrats as allies in the wolf wars.

Truth be told, Minnesota has at least 3,000 or more wolves. Last year, Minnesota killed 413 or 13% of their wolves. This year they will kill only 220 or 7 % of their wolves. You can kill 20- 25% of your furbearers, small game or big game every year (as many states do) and you merely stimulate the population by guaranteeing more survive the winter and more reproduction takes place because of less competition and more available food. If you wanted to have “more” deer or moose and you admitted the obvious impact of wolves on deer and moose; you would kill 50-75% of your wolves for 4-6 years and then maintain a harvest of 35-45% of your wolves annually ever after – or you would exterminate the wolves as was done throughout history in Europe and North America.

That is the real reason deer hunting success is down but nobody is going to look into it, much less try to do anything about it. Why don’t we try a government hunter-recruitment program in addition to “reducing the antlerless harvest”? Maybe the reason there isn’t any moose hunting anymore is that the government didn’t recruit moose hunters. I think I’ll put that suggestion in my thank-you letter to the Governor. It is as sensible as the rest of this stuff.

Jim Beers
11 December 2013

If you found this worthwhile, please share it with others. Thanks.

Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.

Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting. You can receive future articles by sending a request with your e-mail address to: jimbeers7@comcast.net

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Talk of the Town

eleazerbanner - CopyJournal—February 12—Sunday Abe Lincoln’s Birthday

It is snowing lightly now. The snow flakes are like little glittering crystals of glass, fluttering down quietly as they pass through the light from the kitchen window. I need to put down here the events of last night; as only you, dear journal, will know all the facts. And you, like the falling flakes of snow, will be quiet of these things that I will pen below…

Every month Margie and I trek over to Richardson Hollow to spend the night with friends Peter and Gilda Martin. We always have a nice supper prepared by Gilda, a superb cook, and then we spend the evening playing cards. Yesterday afternoon, we drove the old truck, affectionately named “Molly”, over Patch Mountain Road. The road was well packed, and the truck managed to wallow through a couple of drifts near the Verrill Farm. We stopped at the Suomela house to leave Brinker. He likes to visit too, but not with the Martins as they have an old Shepard who doesn’t like company.

We arrived about mid afternoon, and Margie and Gilda immediately were involved in the meal preparations and catching up on all the local happenings. Peter had to show me his new Winchester. It is a .30-.30 carbine with fancy checkering on the grip, and a deer etching on the blued receiver. After many shots at imaginary bucks, we put the Winchester in the rack, and ventured down the hill to the sauna.

This sauna was more or less a community asset, being that everyone in the neighborhood used it at some point or other. It is actually on the land of Sylva Polkinen, and had been built by Sylva’s grandfather. As a child I had often wondered who lived in these windowless cottages that dotted the countryside. They most generally were near a small brook, like this one, and I imagined small trolls of some sort hiding until dark to venture out.

The building, approximately eight feet by sixteen, set just a few steps from the small brook. It has a foundation of piled stones, although they are snuggly beneath a couple of feet of snow at this time of year. We opened the outside door by pulling a rope hanging down from high on the left side of the door casing. This rope lifted the wooden latch inside, and exposed a small room (about five by eight) that is used for changing and storing firewood. This room feels damp, moist and quite warm. There is a short bench along one wall to sit on, and wooden pegs up on the other side to hold towels and clothes. The thermometer on the wall, barely visible from the yellow light of a lantern, shows 75 degrees. Peter told me he had already started the fire after dinner, so we just had to stoke it a little for my bath later and for some other Saturday night bathers.

A latchless door with a spring opened to the right side of the sauna room, and opened outward, as did the first door. The doors opened out to provide some safety should the building catch fire, which was not an uncommon occurrence. The three tiered cedar benches wrap around two sides of this room to the left of the door. The room is a box sheathed in cedar, and has a lantern providing the only light. Set into the right hand corner is the heater for the sauna. Sometimes the heater is an old pot bellied stove, small cook stove, or like this, a custom built contrivance. This heater is built with a stone base, sides and chimney—uncommon to most saunas, but of quality and for safety. A cast iron plate, possibly from an old cook stove top, has been carefully set down into the top of the masonry and stone. On top of this plate are carefully piled river stones; larger stones with various smaller sizes intermingled. These stones have been carried from some distant river or stream. They are worn round by tumbling in the swift waters, and range in size from chicken egg to a small cabbage. These stones are piled in such a way that water poured on the heated stones will turn to steam and vapor before it reaches the iron plate. If the water continually hits on the plate, it can crack or explode causing sparks and metal to fly about. A cast iron door, about half a yard square, has been carefully set into the side front of the stone heater.

Peter opened the door on the heater and exposed a thick, glowing bed of yellow, orange coals. He carefully set in a dozen good sticks of red oak, and using an iron poker spaced them around inside. I sat on the low bench, wiping the sweat from my brow. I could easily make out the temperature reading on the large round dial thermometer nailed to the back of the door—145 degrees! We hadn’t stayed inside very long, just long enough to set the bed of coals. I found myself in a kind of problem, as I stepped outside to the crisp night air. My glasses had frosted over, and the moisture on my mustache had crystallized making me appear to be “Old Man Winter”.

We walked up the hill past a couple of houses that cast light from their windows onto the snowy roadway. Stomping our boots off on the porch, we announce our presence to the women. They have the feast all spread on the table; certainly good timing on our part. Gilda had again outdone herself with this supper banquet. The roast beef was delicious, the potatoes with gravy were divine, and the string beans—well, if I liked beans, would surely have been wonderful. Margie’s pumpkin pie finished off this delightful meal.

We all took part cleaning up the table and washing all the dishes. Then we set the table for our match. Usually Peter and I would team against the ladies, and tonight was no different. Peter and I were bantered about the thrashing we took last month when we played whist. For tonight’s games we conspired and lobbied successfully for hearts; surely we could change our bad luck to good fortune.

The night went all too quickly, and if it weren’t for my running the hearts and having the queen of spades in the last hand, Peter and I would have been beaten as bad as last month. Margie and Gilda must have a signal system to help, surely we aren’t that bad—or maybe we are.

Gilda was serving tea and oatmeal cookies, but I passed and decided to head for the sauna. It is a treat that I have always enjoyed, and I had especially looked forward to since my visit earlier this afternoon. I almost always went alone, as the Martins liked Friday night baths and Margie rather liked the tub at home. I put on my wool coat and hat, slid on my boots, and stepped out into the night air. It was cold, not like the frigid night Brinker tried to do me in, but rather seasonal and in the mid twenties. I lit my corncob and strolled down the hill; savoring the quiet and the memories flowing from my pipe smoke.

The lights shining into the roadway were fewer now, but the fading moon held enough light to navigate the way. I arrived at the sauna and could see that some of the neighbors had been in recently. I hailed the doorway, and received no reply. There is an informal reservation system used in the neighborhood. It is by word of mouth discussion and habit that sort out the times of use. The arriving person would try to arrive after the earlier party had left; as a naked dip in the brook or roll in the snow were common finales to the sauna experience. I wouldn’t want to be racing out the door, naked as a chicken’s egg, and run smack into someone coming down the path for their turn at the sauna. They may be as embarrassed as I would be surprised!

I pulled the rope latch and entered the ante room. I shed my coat and hat, and stepped into the sauna room and stoked the fire with some quick, hot burning pine splints. I returned to the eighty-eight degrees of the other room and shed my whole attire, carefully hanging my clothes on the wooden pegs and sliding my boots under the bench. My towel and I stepped into the dry heat of the sauna, the thermometer read 165. I sat on the lowest bench and acclimated to the temperature. I checked the two pails, and they were full of water. A tin dipper hung from the lip of one of the pails. I now was sweating quite easily, and skipped the middle row and sat now on the top bench. My head was just below the ceiling boards, and I wondered how Bernard Hutchins manages with his six foot six frame. The pine had ignited and flamed the temperature to 192—I don’t think the thermometer is weather service calibrated, but it’s only relative anyway.

The time was now to start the steam process. I stepped down and carefully edged my way toward the hot stones nestled above the crackling fire. The boards on the floor were spaced slightly and were still a little slippery and wet. I carefully picked up the hot dipper with my towel, and skimmed a dipper full of hot water from the pail nearest the heat. I spread the water across the superheated stones with a sweeping motion. By just pouring the water down on the stones, the steam would rise more quickly than you could move your hand, leaving your wrist and hand with severe burns! Experience is my teacher.

Three dipper volumes of water make all the steam I can comfortably endure. I sit still on the top bench feeling the steam swirl past my face and body. I breathe slowly so as not to overheat my lungs. The sweat I had earlier is now running down my body, and dripping from the lathes of the bench. Every pore on my body has opened up and my skin is being cleansed by the vapors. I glance over at the thermometer, it is pegged out at 220, now I know it has to be wrong or my body would be boiling over! I have been sitting only a short time when I know I’ve reached my limit.

I move down to the lowest bench, and walk quickly out the doors. I stand naked and tingling in this cold, quiet snowscape. Experience has also taught me that a roll in the snow is invigorating, but it must be done right off or the thrill is a chill. I lie down on my back in a blanket of fresh snow. I melt slowly down under my weight and hot body. When I start to feel the coolness creeping into my feet, I gather myself up and stride back to the sauna. The briskness of this whole atmosphere quickens my thoughts and movements. I reach up for the rope and snap it down to open the board door, but to my stark surprise the rope pulls out!

I yank repeatedly on the carved handle on the door, yet it still resists every effort. I push, twist, lift, and pound, and the door stays locked. Now I’m getting cold. What should I do? I can’t wait I’ll freeze. I can run up he hill to Peter’s, but I’m naked and all. That can be only my last resort, which I must decide quite quickly. My mind flashes to the stories that will be told of Eleazer’s Folly in Richardson Hollow. Vanity—ahhhhh! I have a flash of inspiration, and a smile comes to my face. I step into the deep snow beside the sauna and break a thin stem from a striped maple. With this I will slide up the latch board from through the crack along the edge of the door. I cannot see as a shadow is cast by the building, so I feel for the edge of the door. I prod the stick, small end first, into the cleft. It only goes so far and stops bluntly, even as I slide it up and down the crack. No use, the good Finnish craftsmanship has foiled me.

That’s it! I’ve got to go before I become an ice cube. I run as swiftly as a man my size can run. No clothes, coat, hat, or glasses—just a streak. My numbing feet follow the path to the plowed portion of roadway and I start up the hill. I can only think of the gossip’s fodder I will now become. A bright ray of light from the first farm house, draws my attention to the white bark on a large paper birch tree standing beside the road. I break my wobbly stride, and snatch a strip of loose bark from the trunk of the birch. I hesitate, should I continue on, or try the door again before I freeze my feet and other things. A choice is made and down again I go. I felt the edge of the door and slid the pliable bark through the crack. I bends around and goes right on through the jam and stays stiff enough for me to lift the latch—viola!!

I immediately ran into the sauna to thaw any frosted parts; it still took a few minutes. Then I calmly dressed in the anteroom. I smiled to myself and gave a sigh of relief at my good fortune. The water pails were refilled from the brook, and the lanterns snuffed out. I repaired the door opening mechanism and walked out into the night a changed man, and fully clothed this time. I lit my pipe and sauntered up the snowy way. I thought of the lady in Paris who spent the day with her head stuck in the porch railing, until a passerby spied her. She is embarrassingly famous—I don’t want to be famous, I certainly don’t want to be the “talk of the town”.

Warmly Submitted,
Eleazer Peabody

Read all of Eleazer Peabody’s Tales from Maine.

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A Hissin’ Fit

eleazerbanner - CopyJournal—January 30–Monday

Margie and I had a busy weekend, and I haven’t had the chance to make an entry since Friday. Today the weather has moderated, and is cloudy with the temperature in the low 20’s. I haven’t ventured out yet this morning, but I expect Brinker will want a walk soon.

I have to recount a story Art Harrington related to me at the Grange Supper on Saturday night. But before I start this account, I’ll set a little background. Art was born the third son of Antti and Anna Heikkinen, and lived with his wife Effie on a plot of land his dad owned on the back side of Patch Mountain. Antti had arrived here from his native Finland speaking little English, but coming to a Finnish community he acclimated quickly. His first property purchase was the former Edwards Farm, which included the farm buildings in which Art now lived. The neat house and ell stood just off the road, and set back against a well pruned stand of trees. Art had carefully taken apart the sagging, weathered barn back to the long ell. He had meticulously stacked all the lumber, bundled all the unbroken shingles, and saved most of the nails that he had pulled.

Art was just as particular about the firewood stored in the ell. He had eight or nine cords of firewood neatly stacked in the different bays of the ell. There were piles of small kindling separated as pine, cedar, spruce, fir, and popple. Other areas had stacks, only as high as Effie can reach; of split or round wood of maple, ash, red oak, and birch all separated into different sizes. Art once described to me that he uses a specific type and size of wood depending on the temperature outside and whether he was cooking or heating.

The ell, on the inside, is like the long narrow corridor of Kimball’s boarding house, except wood piles imitate the wallpaper, with the occasional cobwebbed window interrupting the neat, linear feel. A trip into the house through the ell shed is an aromatic treat provided by the aroma of pine, cedar, and pungent red oak.

Well, enough of the background, I just wanted to give you a feel for the temperament and personality embodied in my friend Art.

This is exactly as Art retold the happening to me at the Grange, Saturday night…

“Effie had been having a hard time keeping up with filling the wood boxes by the stoves, so I would stock them up before bed at night. It had been blistering cold for many nights, so we have had to burn lots of wood just to keep the frost off the kitchen windows. I was out in the ell loading my left arm with oak round wood, carefully gazing through the frosty vapors left by my breath to select just the right size sticks to last through the night, when I first heard it…”

The sound started as a low grumbling and trailed off into a higher pitched hiss. I stopped my chore and turned sharply to look into a dark corner of the ell. At first my eyes, tearing by the cold air, couldn’t pick out any detail. I quickly moved my mittened right hand to wipe the large tear from my cheek and adjust the oval spectacles on my nose. I peered intently into the shadow made by the light of my dusty lantern and still couldn’t see anything. Everything was quiet, except the rustling of wind blown raspberry canes scrapping on the outside shingles. Had I just been hearing things? I waited… I guess so.

I took the arm load of wood into the kitchen and carefully laid the sticks down in the oak box by the big cook stove. I wiped the steam off my glasses and peeked into the parlor; Effie was still knitting and humming a favorite hymn. I went back into the kitchen and tramped out the back door into the ell for another load of wood. I was just about to reach for a gnarly stick of maple when I heard it again. This time the grumbling was deeper and longer, and the hissing more punctuated and loud. There was something on top of the birch pile up next to a four by eight cross beam. I carefully removed the lantern from its rusty holder, and lifted it above my head.

I held my gaze on an area in the very corner of the ell, where the old barn had been attached. There was a nest of spider webs hanging from the large cross beam, so it took many seconds for the dull, yellow light from the lamp I was slowly moving up and down to produce to two, glowing globes. These globes turned out to be the glaring eyes of an angry wildcat. Why he looked so angry, I could only guess. It should be me who would be angry, as it is my shed not his. He didn’t appear to be aggressive, so I just stared for a sort time. I went over to one of the sliding doors, and opened it a small crack for my new acquaintance to gracefully exit during the night. I finished loading up my arm and blew out the lantern, as I returned to the warmth of the kitchen.

I was up before dawn the next morning, and could see the snow falling lightly through the light from the kitchen windows. It was too cold to snow with much accumulation, but a little nuisance that needed to be cleaned off the steps of the ell and front stoop. When I finished this chore, I went into the ell through the sliding door left open overnight. There were no tracks of my visitor leaving during the snow showers, so I assumed he had “beat feet” soon after our encounter last night. I stomped my boots heavily on the plank floor to be sure I didn’t have any snow left; certainly didn’t want to wet Effie’s kitchen floor. The door protested when I slid it shut, squeaking and squawking as it closed against the weathered post. I walked down the narrow corridor of fire wood, and stopped to get another load of good hardwood.

I was startled by the sudden scratching sound of feet running along the top of one of the wood piles. I, being on the somewhat jumpy side, dropped the arm load of wood, sparsely missing my toes. I swung my body around, to curse the squirrel that surely was one of the many trying to use my shed and its winter shelter, but came eye to eye with the bristling wildcat. He acted as if I was intruding into his home without first knocking. He stared coldly at me, as I calmed myself down. I now carefully watched this feline intruder. He appeared to be poised to take a step away, or was he just gathering nerve to jump me? He turned his fluffy head and stepped a few short steps along the loose wood atop of the pile, to sit pompously on a flat piece of red oak. He scowled at me and murmured a low growl emanating from his throat, vibrating across a flattened tongue and between four dangerous looking canines.

This second meeting had lasted only a few seconds, when I assured myself that twelve or thirteen pounds of feline weren’t going to make mischief with a two hundred pound Scandinavian. I became a little angry at him, and wished that he had left the comfort of my ell shed and headed himself home. He had taken stock of me and must have felt I was of no threat to him, because he started to take a cat bath. I now was quite sure it was “Mr. Wildcat”. I was busy, and didn’t need the distraction of this vacationing cat. I went out the near ell door and walked through the yard and opened the far shed door, which I had most recently shut. I stomped back around to the near door toward the kitchen, thinking along the way, that I hoped Mr. Wildcat would take the hint.

I struck out early the next morning to do my chores in the cedar swamp, and worked all day with just a short break for a lunch of venison and “rat” cheese. The sun was just about to sink below the pine topped crest of Long Mountain, when I returned from my day cutting fence posts below the lower field. As I walked into the yard, I saw movement in the dusty window on the side of the ell—it was him. Damn, he’s still here and look at him stretching out and yawning. He probably was lying in the sun all day, while I sweated over my buck saw in the swamp! The nerve of that cat! I was now in quite a lather. My first thought was to get the Stevens .22 and end his furry existence on the top of the wood pile. But the thought of spilling blood on the wood, and skinnin’ the critter in this cold, turned my plan into one involving severe fright. I could and surely would make a ruckus with the old double barrel Winchester twelve gauge.

I stamped through the parlor where Effie was knitting, and retrieved the old stovepipe from behind the dining room door. I then tramped back through the parlor, just mumbling to myself about a problem that needed solving. I entered the ell shed, and had to stop and light the lantern, as the sun had now set beyond Long Mountain. I pulled out two bird shot loads from the breast pocket of my flannel vest, and slid them smoothly into the hollow barrels of the Winchester. I hefted the shotgun in my right arm, as the left arm held high the lantern.

I walked slowly down the isle of wood, listening and watching for any sign of Mr. Wildcat. Each step over the plank floor offered up a squeak or moan, certainly not a stealthy approach. The light from the lantern cast moving shadows throughout the dusty, cob webbed roof spaces. I heard muffled sounds of movement, then there he was perched on a cross member of shed framing. Not wanting to cause any real damage, I brought the Winchester up to my shoulder and steadied it with the left hand, and aimed at a small stack of soft pine logs that I hadn’t yet split for kindling. I intended to blast the birdshot into this wood, and scare the living spots right off Mr. Wildcat’s hide.

Well the swinging of the lantern distracted my aim, so I held and sighted the shotgun with one hand. I had the hammers on both barrels ready, but no fool would fire both at once, so I squeezed the front trigger as gently as I could. Blam… The ringing in my ears wasn’t even noticed, before the recoil of the first charge sent my right hand into a tighter grip that caused my finger to twitch on trigger number two. The sound of barrel number two firing was a long echo of the first. The stock had slipped from my shoulder on number one to my right breast side for the second round. This later recoil did me in, and sat me down; kerplunk…thud…on the cold shed floor.

I sat rather dazed for a few moments. I sensed the pungent smell of sulfur and could see the cloud of black powder wafting through the lantern light in the shed. My ears were ringing loudly, yet I had managed to keep hold of the lantern and Winchester. Wow! This must have been how Jack Ellingwood felt after being kicked in the chest by his Belgian yearling. I leaned the shotgun against a pile of red maple roundwood, and slowly rose to my feet. I walked slowly to the far shed doorway and held the lantern high, looking for tracks of the skittering cat. I was still somewhat shaken, but plainly there were no tracks in the newly fallen snow. Damn, again! Walking over to the wood pile and lifting my lantern assured me that; indeed, he was still there. He looked at me as if to laugh, and then the yawn again—I really disliked him at this point!

A cold draft tickled my mustache and a small, white plume of snow drew my attention to a gaping hole in the roof. Apparently my second shot went awry, hit a knot in the roofing, and shattered its way to the night sky. The hole, bigger than my fist, seemed to suck in bushel baskets of light snow. That was it, I was beaten—nothing could be worse!

Worse is what I got when I opened the kitchen door! Effie hadn’t seen the shotgun in my arms when I had tramped through the parlor earlier. The first shot caused such a start, that she pulled one of her needles completely out of her knitting. The second round upset her from the comfort of her rocker, and caused a very neat extraction of the second needle from my new dress sweater. Needless to say, “She wasn’t happy”. I had now met the second wildcat of the evening!

Over the next six days I teased, roiled, and coaxed, that old Mr. Wildcat. I poked him with a crotched stick, I threw blocks of wood his way, and I even set out a plate of smelly, luscious cat treats made from old sardines. But all this to no avail! On the seventh day he was gone….without a word…no thank you…nothing…just gone!

I missed my daily encounters with Mr. Wildcat, yeah right, for about five seconds maybe. It took me two months to sweet talk Effie into finishing my dress sweater. I eventually got new shingles made, and patched the hole in the roof. And there wasn’t hide nor hair of a squirrel, mouse, or rat in the ell shed until spring—one good thing!”

I assure you these are the words Art spoke to me and others the night of the Grange supper. You have to know that it was so good and intriguing, because I missed my second helping of Arlene Farrington’s famous custard pie.

Respectfully Submitted,
Eleazer Peabody

Read all of Eleazer Peabody’s Tales from Maine.

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A Hissin’ Fit

Journal—January 30–Monday

Margie and I had a busy weekend, and I haven’t had the chance to make an entry since Friday. Today the weather has moderated, and is cloudy with the temperature in the low 20’s. I haven’t ventured out yet this morning, but I expect Brinker will want a walk soon.

I have to recount a story Art Harrington related to me at the Grange Supper on Saturday night. But before I start this account, I’ll set a little background. Art was born the third son of Antti and Anna Heikkinen, and lived with his wife Effie on a plot of land his dad owned on the back side of Patch Mountain. Antti had arrived here from his native Finland speaking little English, but coming to a Finnish community he acclimated quickly. His first property purchase was the former Edwards Farm, which included the farm buildings in which Art now lived. The neat house and ell stood just off the road, and set back against a well pruned stand of trees. Art had carefully taken apart the sagging, weathered barn back to the long ell. He had meticulously stacked all the lumber, bundled all the unbroken shingles, and saved most of the nails that he had pulled.

Art was just as particular about the firewood stored in the ell. He had eight or nine cords of firewood neatly stacked in the different bays of the ell. There were piles of small kindling separated as pine, cedar, spruce, fir, and popple. Other areas had stacks, only as high as Effie can reach; of split or round wood of maple, ash, red oak, and birch all separated into different sizes. Art once described to me that he uses a specific type and size of wood depending on the temperature outside and whether he was cooking or heating.

The ell, on the inside, is like the long narrow corridor of Kimball’s boarding house, except wood piles imitate the wallpaper, with the occasional cobwebbed window interrupting the neat, linear feel. A trip into the house through the ell shed is an aromatic treat provided by the aroma of pine, cedar, and pungent red oak.

Well, enough of the background, I just wanted to give you a feel for the temperament and personality embodied in my friend Art.

This is exactly as Art retold the happening to me at the Grange, Saturday night…

“Effie had been having a hard time keeping up with filling the wood boxes by the stoves, so I would stock them up before bed at night. It had been blistering cold for many nights, so we have had to burn lots of wood just to keep the frost off the kitchen windows. I was out in the ell loading my left arm with oak round wood, carefully gazing through the frosty vapors left by my breath to select just the right size sticks to last through the night, when I first heard it…”

The sound started as a low grumbling and trailed off into a higher pitched hiss. I stopped my chore and turned sharply to look into a dark corner of the ell. At first my eyes, tearing by the cold air, couldn’t pick out any detail. I quickly moved my mittened right hand to wipe the large tear from my cheek and adjust the oval spectacles on my nose. I peered intently into the shadow made by the light of my dusty lantern and still couldn’t see anything. Everything was quiet, except the rustling of wind blown raspberry canes scrapping on the outside shingles. Had I just been hearing things? I waited… I guess so.

I took the arm load of wood into the kitchen and carefully laid the sticks down in the oak box by the big cook stove. I wiped the steam off my glasses and peeked into the parlor; Effie was still knitting and humming a favorite hymn. I went back into the kitchen and tramped out the back door into the ell for another load of wood. I was just about to reach for a gnarly stick of maple when I heard it again. This time the grumbling was deeper and longer, and the hissing more punctuated and loud. There was something on top of the birch pile up next to a four by eight cross beam. I carefully removed the lantern from its rusty holder, and lifted it above my head.

I held my gaze on an area in the very corner of the ell, where the old barn had been attached. There was a nest of spider webs hanging from the large cross beam, so it took many seconds for the dull, yellow light from the lamp I was slowly moving up and down to produce to two, glowing globes. These globes turned out to be the glaring eyes of an angry wildcat. Why he looked so angry, I could only guess. It should be me who would be angry, as it is my shed not his. He didn’t appear to be aggressive, so I just stared for a sort time. I went over to one of the sliding doors, and opened it a small crack for my new acquaintance to gracefully exit during the night. I finished loading up my arm and blew out the lantern, as I returned to the warmth of the kitchen.

I was up before dawn the next morning, and could see the snow falling lightly through the light from the kitchen windows. It was too cold to snow with much accumulation, but a little nuisance that needed to be cleaned off the steps of the ell and front stoop. When I finished this chore, I went into the ell through the sliding door left open overnight. There were no tracks of my visitor leaving during the snow showers, so I assumed he had “beat feet” soon after our encounter last night. I stomped my boots heavily on the plank floor to be sure I didn’t have any snow left; certainly didn’t want to wet Effie’s kitchen floor. The door protested when I slid it shut, squeaking and squawking as it closed against the weathered post. I walked down the narrow corridor of fire wood, and stopped to get another load of good hardwood.

I was startled by the sudden scratching sound of feet running along the top of one of the wood piles. I, being on the somewhat jumpy side, dropped the arm load of wood, sparsely missing my toes. I swung my body around, to curse the squirrel that surely was one of the many trying to use my shed and its winter shelter, but came eye to eye with the bristling wildcat. He acted as if I was intruding into his home without first knocking. He stared coldly at me, as I calmed myself down. I now carefully watched this feline intruder. He appeared to be poised to take a step away, or was he just gathering nerve to jump me? He turned his fluffy head and stepped a few short steps along the loose wood atop of the pile, to sit pompously on a flat piece of red oak. He scowled at me and murmured a low growl emanating from his throat, vibrating across a flattened tongue and between four dangerous looking canines.

This second meeting had lasted only a few seconds, when I assured myself that twelve or thirteen pounds of feline weren’t going to make mischief with a two hundred pound Scandinavian. I became a little angry at him, and wished that he had left the comfort of my ell shed and headed himself home. He had taken stock of me and must have felt I was of no threat to him, because he started to take a cat bath. I now was quite sure it was “Mr. Wildcat”. I was busy, and didn’t need the distraction of this vacationing cat. I went out the near ell door and walked through the yard and opened the far shed door, which I had most recently shut. I stomped back around to the near door toward the kitchen, thinking along the way, that I hoped Mr. Wildcat would take the hint.

I struck out early the next morning to do my chores in the cedar swamp, and worked all day with just a short break for a lunch of venison and “rat” cheese. The sun was just about to sink below the pine topped crest of Long Mountain, when I returned from my day cutting fence posts below the lower field. As I walked into the yard, I saw movement in the dusty window on the side of the ell—it was him. Damn, he’s still here and look at him stretching out and yawning. He probably was lying in the sun all day, while I sweated over my buck saw in the swamp! The nerve of that cat! I was now in quite a lather. My first thought was to get the Stevens .22 and end his furry existence on the top of the wood pile. But the thought of spilling blood on the wood, and skinnin’ the critter in this cold, turned my plan into one involving severe fright. I could and surely would make a ruckus with the old double barrel Winchester twelve gauge.

I stamped through the parlor where Effie was knitting, and retrieved the old stovepipe from behind the dining room door. I then tramped back through the parlor, just mumbling to myself about a problem that needed solving. I entered the ell shed, and had to stop and light the lantern, as the sun had now set beyond Long Mountain. I pulled out two bird shot loads from the breast pocket of my flannel vest, and slid them smoothly into the hollow barrels of the Winchester. I hefted the shotgun in my right arm, as the left arm held high the lantern.

I walked slowly down the isle of wood, listening and watching for any sign of Mr. Wildcat. Each step over the plank floor offered up a squeak or moan, certainly not a stealthy approach. The light from the lantern cast moving shadows throughout the dusty, cob webbed roof spaces. I heard muffled sounds of movement, then there he was perched on a cross member of shed framing. Not wanting to cause any real damage, I brought the Winchester up to my shoulder and steadied it with the left hand, and aimed at a small stack of soft pine logs that I hadn’t yet split for kindling. I intended to blast the birdshot into this wood, and scare the living spots right off Mr. Wildcat’s hide.

Well the swinging of the lantern distracted my aim, so I held and sighted the shotgun with one hand. I had the hammers on both barrels ready, but no fool would fire both at once, so I squeezed the front trigger as gently as I could. Blam… The ringing in my ears wasn’t even noticed, before the recoil of the first charge sent my right hand into a tighter grip that caused my finger to twitch on trigger number two. The sound of barrel number two firing was a long echo of the first. The stock had slipped from my shoulder on number one to my right breast side for the second round. This later recoil did me in, and sat me down; kerplunk…thud…on the cold shed floor.

I sat rather dazed for a few moments. I sensed the pungent smell of sulfur and could see the cloud of black powder wafting through the lantern light in the shed. My ears were ringing loudly, yet I had managed to keep hold of the lantern and Winchester. Wow! This must have been how Jack Ellingwood felt after being kicked in the chest by his Belgian yearling. I leaned the shotgun against a pile of red maple roundwood, and slowly rose to my feet. I walked slowly to the far shed doorway and held the lantern high, looking for tracks of the skittering cat. I was still somewhat shaken, but plainly there were no tracks in the newly fallen snow. Damn, again! Walking over to the wood pile and lifting my lantern assured me that; indeed, he was still there. He looked at me as if to laugh, and then the yawn again—I really disliked him at this point!

A cold draft tickled my mustache and a small, white plume of snow drew my attention to a gaping hole in the roof. Apparently my second shot went awry, hit a knot in the roofing, and shattered its way to the night sky. The hole, bigger than my fist, seemed to suck in bushel baskets of light snow. That was it, I was beaten—nothing could be worse!

Worse is what I got when I opened the kitchen door! Effie hadn’t seen the shotgun in my arms when I had tramped through the parlor earlier. The first shot caused such a start, that she pulled one of her needles completely out of her knitting. The second round upset her from the comfort of her rocker, and caused a very neat extraction of the second needle from my new dress sweater. Needless to say, “She wasn’t happy”. I had now met the second wildcat of the evening!

Over the next six days I teased, roiled, and coaxed, that old Mr. Wildcat. I poked him with a crotched stick, I threw blocks of wood his way, and I even set out a plate of smelly, luscious cat treats made from old sardines. But all this to no avail! On the seventh day he was gone….without a word…no thank you…nothing…just gone!

I missed my daily encounters with Mr. Wildcat, yeah right, for about five seconds maybe. It took me two months to sweet talk Effie into finishing my dress sweater. I eventually got new shingles made, and patched the hole in the roof. And there wasn’t hide nor hair of a squirrel, mouse, or rat in the ell shed until spring—one good thing!”

I assure you these are the words Art spoke to me and others the night of the Grange supper. You have to know that it was so good and intriguing, because I missed my second helping of Arlene Farrington’s famous custard pie.

Respectfully Submitted,
Eleazer Peabody

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Talk of the Town

Journal—February 12—Sunday Abe Lincoln’s Birthday

It is snowing lightly now. The snow flakes are like little glittering crystals of glass, fluttering down quietly as they pass through the light from the kitchen window. I need to put down here the events of last night; as only you, dear journal, will know all the facts. And you, like the falling flakes of snow, will be quiet of these things that I will pen below…

Every month Margie and I trek over to Richardson Hollow to spend the night with friends Peter and Gilda Martin. We always have a nice supper prepared by Gilda, a superb cook, and then we spend the evening playing cards. Yesterday afternoon, we drove the old truck, affectionately named “Molly”, over Patch Mountain Road. The road was well packed, and the truck managed to wallow through a couple of drifts near the Verrill Farm. We stopped at the Suomela house to leave Brinker. He likes to visit too, but not with the Martins as they have an old Shepard who doesn’t like company.

We arrived about mid afternoon, and Margie and Gilda immediately were involved in the meal preparations and catching up on all the local happenings. Peter had to show me his new Winchester. It is a .30-.30 carbine with fancy checkering on the grip, and a deer etching on the blued receiver. After many shots at imaginary bucks, we put the Winchester in the rack, and ventured down the hill to the sauna.

This sauna was more or less a community asset, being that everyone in the neighborhood used it at some point or other. It is actually on the land of Sylva Polkinen, and had been built by Sylva’s grandfather. As a child I had often wondered who lived in these windowless cottages that dotted the countryside. They most generally were near a small brook, like this one, and I imagined small trolls of some sort hiding until dark to venture out.

The building, approximately eight feet by sixteen, set just a few steps from the small brook. It has a foundation of piled stones, although they are snuggly beneath a couple of feet of snow at this time of year. We opened the outside door by pulling a rope hanging down from high on the left side of the door casing. This rope lifted the wooden latch inside, and exposed a small room (about five by eight) that is used for changing and storing firewood. This room feels damp, moist and quite warm. There is a short bench along one wall to sit on, and wooden pegs up on the other side to hold towels and clothes. The thermometer on the wall, barely visible from the yellow light of a lantern, shows 75 degrees. Peter told me he had already started the fire after dinner, so we just had to stoke it a little for my bath later and for some other Saturday night bathers.

A latchless door with a spring opened to the right side of the sauna room, and opened outward, as did the first door. The doors opened out to provide some safety should the building catch fire, which was not an uncommon occurrence. The three tiered cedar benches wrap around two sides of this room to the left of the door. The room is a box sheathed in cedar, and has a lantern providing the only light. Set into the right hand corner is the heater for the sauna. Sometimes the heater is an old pot bellied stove, small cook stove, or like this, a custom built contrivance. This heater is built with a stone base, sides and chimney—uncommon to most saunas, but of quality and for safety. A cast iron plate, possibly from an old cook stove top, has been carefully set down into the top of the masonry and stone. On top of this plate are carefully piled river stones; larger stones with various smaller sizes intermingled. These stones have been carried from some distant river or stream. They are worn round by tumbling in the swift waters, and range in size from chicken egg to a small cabbage. These stones are piled in such a way that water poured on the heated stones will turn to steam and vapor before it reaches the iron plate. If the water continually hits on the plate, it can crack or explode causing sparks and metal to fly about. A cast iron door, about half a yard square, has been carefully set into the side front of the stone heater.

Peter opened the door on the heater and exposed a thick, glowing bed of yellow, orange coals. He carefully set in a dozen good sticks of red oak, and using an iron poker spaced them around inside. I sat on the low bench, wiping the sweat from my brow. I could easily make out the temperature reading on the large round dial thermometer nailed to the back of the door—145 degrees! We hadn’t stayed inside very long, just long enough to set the bed of coals. I found myself in a kind of problem, as I stepped outside to the crisp night air. My glasses had frosted over, and the moisture on my mustache had crystallized making me appear to be “Old Man Winter”.

We walked up the hill past a couple of houses that cast light from their windows onto the snowy roadway. Stomping our boots off on the porch, we announce our presence to the women. They have the feast all spread on the table; certainly good timing on our part. Gilda had again outdone herself with this supper banquet. The roast beef was delicious, the potatoes with gravy were divine, and the string beans—well, if I liked beans, would surely have been wonderful. Margie’s pumpkin pie finished off this delightful meal.

We all took part cleaning up the table and washing all the dishes. Then we set the table for our match. Usually Peter and I would team against the ladies, and tonight was no different. Peter and I were bantered about the thrashing we took last month when we played whist. For tonight’s games we conspired and lobbied successfully for hearts; surely we could change our bad luck to good fortune.

The night went all too quickly, and if it weren’t for my running the hearts and having the queen of spades in the last hand, Peter and I would have been beaten as bad as last month. Margie and Gilda must have a signal system to help, surely we aren’t that bad—or maybe we are.

Gilda was serving tea and oatmeal cookies, but I passed and decided to head for the sauna. It is a treat that I have always enjoyed, and I had especially looked forward to since my visit earlier this afternoon. I almost always went alone, as the Martins liked Friday night baths and Margie rather liked the tub at home. I put on my wool coat and hat, slid on my boots, and stepped out into the night air. It was cold, not like the frigid night Brinker tried to do me in, but rather seasonal and in the mid twenties. I lit my corncob and strolled down the hill; savoring the quiet and the memories flowing from my pipe smoke.

The lights shining into the roadway were fewer now, but the fading moon held enough light to navigate the way. I arrived at the sauna and could see that some of the neighbors had been in recently. I hailed the doorway, and received no reply. There is an informal reservation system used in the neighborhood. It is by word of mouth discussion and habit that sort out the times of use. The arriving person would try to arrive after the earlier party had left; as a naked dip in the brook or roll in the snow were common finales to the sauna experience. I wouldn’t want to be racing out the door, naked as a chicken’s egg, and run smack into someone coming down the path for their turn at the sauna. They may be as embarrassed as I would be surprised!

I pulled the rope latch and entered the ante room. I shed my coat and hat, and stepped into the sauna room and stoked the fire with some quick, hot burning pine splints. I returned to the eighty-eight degrees of the other room and shed my whole attire, carefully hanging my clothes on the wooden pegs and sliding my boots under the bench. My towel and I stepped into the dry heat of the sauna, the thermometer read 165. I sat on the lowest bench and acclimated to the temperature. I checked the two pails, and they were full of water. A tin dipper hung from the lip of one of the pails. I now was sweating quite easily, and skipped the middle row and sat now on the top bench. My head was just below the ceiling boards, and I wondered how Bernard Hutchins manages with his six foot six frame. The pine had ignited and flamed the temperature to 192—I don’t think the thermometer is weather service calibrated, but it’s only relative anyway.

The time was now to start the steam process. I stepped down and carefully edged my way toward the hot stones nestled above the crackling fire. The boards on the floor were spaced slightly and were still a little slippery and wet. I carefully picked up the hot dipper with my towel, and skimmed a dipper full of hot water from the pail nearest the heat. I spread the water across the superheated stones with a sweeping motion. By just pouring the water down on the stones, the steam would rise more quickly than you could move your hand, leaving your wrist and hand with severe burns! Experience is my teacher.

Three dipper volumes of water make all the steam I can comfortably endure. I sit still on the top bench feeling the steam swirl past my face and body. I breathe slowly so as not to overheat my lungs. The sweat I had earlier is now running down my body, and dripping from the lathes of the bench. Every pore on my body has opened up and my skin is being cleansed by the vapors. I glance over at the thermometer, it is pegged out at 220, now I know it has to be wrong or my body would be boiling over! I have been sitting only a short time when I know I’ve reached my limit.

I move down to the lowest bench, and walk quickly out the doors. I stand naked and tingling in this cold, quiet snowscape. Experience has also taught me that a roll in the snow is invigorating, but it must be done right off or the thrill is a chill. I lie down on my back in a blanket of fresh snow. I melt slowly down under my weight and hot body. When I start to feel the coolness creeping into my feet, I gather myself up and stride back to the sauna. The briskness of this whole atmosphere quickens my thoughts and movements. I reach up for the rope and snap it down to open the board door, but to my stark surprise the rope pulls out!

I yank repeatedly on the carved handle on the door, yet it still resists every effort. I push, twist, lift, and pound, and the door stays locked. Now I’m getting cold. What should I do? I can’t wait I’ll freeze. I can run up he hill to Peter’s, but I’m naked and all. That can be only my last resort, which I must decide quite quickly. My mind flashes to the stories that will be told of Eleazer’s Folly in Richardson Hollow. Vanity—ahhhhh! I have a flash of inspiration, and a smile comes to my face. I step into the deep snow beside the sauna and break a thin stem from a striped maple. With this I will slide up the latch board from through the crack along the edge of the door. I cannot see as a shadow is cast by the building, so I feel for the edge of the door. I prod the stick, small end first, into the cleft. It only goes so far and stops bluntly, even as I slide it up and down the crack. No use, the good Finnish craftsmanship has foiled me.

That’s it! I’ve got to go before I become an ice cube. I run as swiftly as a man my size can run. No clothes, coat, hat, or glasses—just a streak. My numbing feet follow the path to the plowed portion of roadway and I start up the hill. I can only think of the gossip’s fodder I will now become. A bright ray of light from the first farm house, draws my attention to the white bark on a large paper birch tree standing beside the road. I break my wobbly stride, and snatch a strip of loose bark from the trunk of the birch. I hesitate, should I continue on, or try the door again before I freeze my feet and other things. A choice is made and down again I go. I felt the edge of the door and slid the pliable bark through the crack. I bends around and goes right on through the jam and stays stiff enough for me to lift the latch—viola!!

I immediately ran into the sauna to thaw any frosted parts; it still took a few minutes. Then I calmly dressed in the anteroom. I smiled to myself and gave a sigh of relief at my good fortune. The water pails were refilled from the brook, and the lanterns snuffed out. I repaired the door opening mechanism and walked out into the night a changed man, and fully clothed this time. I lit my pipe and sauntered up the snowy way. I thought of the lady in Paris who spent the day with her head stuck in the porch railing, until a passerby spied her. She is embarrassingly famous—I don’t want to be famous, I certainly don’t want to be the “talk of the town”.

Warmly Submitted,
Eleazer Peabody

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Tailoring Wolf “Science” to Justisfy Political Ends

By Jim Beers

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 10:58pm ·

Federal government wolf intervention in the Lower 48 United States was and is based on radical federal legislation that abolished historic State authority over all wolves, all grizzly bears and many state black bear populations such as Florida and Louisiana. This 30+ year intervention has established extensive wolf populations in 14 States and begun establishment of wolves through federal protection for wolves in 11 more States. Under current law, wolves can be expected to infest (the correct word) each of the Lower 48 United States in the coming decades. Also under current law, federal legal authority and jurisdiction over wolves (like grizzly bears and black bears in certain states) will never expire: one need only observe how as the federal government “returns management authority” to States like Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Minnesota, Wisconsin, et al lawsuits to block such returns bloom in federal courts and federal agency wolf standards (10 packs, 500 wolves, whatever) prevent State’s from truly managing wolves in densities and distributions as demanded by ranchers, farmers, dog owners, hunters, and rural families in such States or the federal government simply seizes the authority back, thereby letting the states carry the costs as they hold the federal bag.

The legal authority for this wolf invasion (again the correct word) is The Endangered Species Act. The two subjects of this Act (i.e. “Endangered” and “Species) no more apply to wolves in fact than they apply to Norway rats or domestic cows.

Wolves (like Norway rats) are circumpolar and ubiquitous throughout Asia, Alaska and most of Canada. Wolves also occur in Northern Africa and are currently infesting Europe under a protection and spreading regime imposed by European Union politicians and bureaucrats using tyrannical methods much like those employed in the United States. Labeling them as “Endangered” is a cruel and profane joke.

Wolves (like domestic cows) are merely one breed or race of a larger true “species”. Wolves, again like domestic cows, breed with and produce fertile offspring with coyotes, domestic dogs, jackals (Africa) and dingoes (Australia). Offspring of such cross-breeding, again like domestic cows, display characteristics of each parent and will transmit the blended characteristics (from physical characteristics to behavioral traits) to their subsequent offspring. To expand the classification biology of this animal to a “Species” as “Species” has been historically defined (i.e. a unique animal group capable of producing fertile offspring) or as “Species” was defined or intended in an ESA that would “save” bald eagles and elephants is a travesty.

To further, as has been done, “spin” traditional classification biology of wolves (“gray” ones here,” timber” ones there, “coastal” ones like this,” desert” ones like that, etc.) into “Red” populations, “Mexican” populations, etc. was little more than a ploy using contrived “science” to justify federal programs to forcibly introduce “endangered” wolf “species” in every state based on baseless “historic” wolf numbers and distributions. (NOTE: Although federal “wolf experts” say what wolf belongs where because it is “native” to that state: when it came time to put wolves in Yellowstone Park the “experts” went to Alberta and the Yukon for wolves. Evidently what is good for the goose –i.e. the states- is not necessarily good for the gander, i.e. the feds.) That paid “scientists” assert that once (100 years ago?, 250 years ago?, amidst an undeveloped land mass?, among primitive societies?) X numbers of wolves existed here and there and therefore must be “restored” elevates a travesty to high dudgeon. To further complicate this essentially straightforward circumpolar animal into artificial “subspecies”, “races”, and “breeds”; in order to “define “populations”; in order to invent population “segments”; so that you might claim something called a “DISTINCT” “population segment” in order to completely baffle the public and courts as you seize state authorities is on a par with French phrenology (skull measurements that reveal “smartness and criminal tendencies) and German Racial Classifications that define Slavs, Jews, Aryans, etc. That is to say complete bunk.

All that said, this is not about classification baloney, excuse me “science”. This is about Ebola and bats in Africa.

The November 2012 Smithsonian magazine has a fascinating article titled The Hunt for Ebola (in Uganda). Long story short: Ebola emerged in 1976 in Zaire in Central Africa. It is a highly contagious and lethal disease that has killed at least one thousand Africans since that time. Several outbreaks since then in Sudan and Uganda have enabled doctors from Europe and the US to work with local governments to develop protocols to contain outbreaks and spread of the disease but the source of the outbreaks has proven elusive. The US Centers for Disease Control has worked for years and spent millions to identify the source of the outbreaks.

What they found is that Ebola is a Virus that infects human cells. The Virus is widely distributed in Ethiopian epauletted fruit bats that often reside in African dwellings. These bats are referred to as “viral reservoirs” (passive carriers of pathogenic organisms that occasionally leap into human beings). The virus can be transmitted in bites or in urine or in feces or even in saliva. During the course of these ongoing investigations a similar deadly viral disease (called a “sister virus”), Marburg bleeding fever, that similarly resides in Egyptian fruit bats was investigated. Both diseases can be transmitted by bats to other animals (like monkeys) that are termed “amplification hosts” and that in turn can also infect humans by a wide variety of means down to simple contact with their infected tissue.

In summary, after years of research there is still no vaccine and the investigators have identified two species of bats as “viral reservoirs” repeatedly infecting humans that die from the disease, in as yet undetermined ways. The investigators express a concern that when they find “how” the virus is transmitted, “Some people here might say, ‘Let’s kill them all’ but that would be destroying a valuable ecological resource. Our aim is to mitigate the interaction”.

Wow, read that last sentence again. “Some people HERE”? Like wolves and their effects HERE in the Lower 48 States, these visitors, these folks from elsewhere, know what’s best for the people “HERE”. Frankly, if I were someone living with these bats; my home, my children’s play area and school, my workplace, and my wife’s home range would be and would remain bat-free henceforth regardless of their “valuable ecological resource” value to those living elsewhere.

Ah, but what about wolves? Wolves were eradicated (by those folks that lived “HERE” where wolves lived) for over 50 years from the Lower 48 States for very good reason. Small remnant populations and the occasional wandering wolf from Canada persisted with state acquiescence in northern States like Minnesota, Montana, Idaho and Washington. All of the wolves in the Lower 48 States today are federal wolves; introduced, protected, and spread by federal force. Thus we are neither remiss nor unfair to say that the federal government is RESPONSIBLE for what the wolves do.

The federal government is responsible for the cattle that wolves kill.

The federal government is responsible for the dogs that wolves kill.

The federal government is responsible for the loss of hunting opportunity, game animals and hunting revenue due to wolf predation on big game.

The federal government is responsible for any injuries or deaths caused by wolves.

The federal government is responsible for the increased dangers and loss of safety in rural living caused by wolves in yards or at school bus stops, etc.

The federal government is responsible for the economic losses in rural economies (animal husbandry cost increases, real estate losses due to safety concerns, etc. caused by wolves.

The federal government is responsible for the loss of freedom for rural children that can no longer camp, fish, hike, hunt, or even play with their dog alone where wolves are present.

Now the above are horrid effects of wolves that the federal government laughingly ignores because:

1. No one will or does hold them accountable. This is an extreme injustice in an increasingly unjust nation.

2. They are Political Ends that were intended all along. The bureaucrats, politicians and radicals responsible for this wolf travesty always desired and intended:

A. That hunting be eliminated.

B. That ranchers be run out of business.

C. That growing swaths of rural America come under federal ownership or easement control.

D. That Local Governments be eliminated.

E. That State governments and State bureaucrats become simple extensions (like contractors) of federal diktats.

F. That legal precedents be established for subsequent federal spread of harmful animals to expand federal land control as with free-roaming buffalo, grizzly bears, uncontrolled black bears and cougars, and even harmful exotic animals allowed to be legally imported by federal wildlife bureaucrats like pythons and Asian carp.

But there is one enormous effect of wolves that the federal government ignored and denies whenever it is mentioned. This effect has the potential to surpass all of the above combined. This effect is one that no one can explain because nothing is “proven” by the few “scientists” that might hazard an opinion. This effect requires scientific research (that should have been conducted before the first wolf was ever left out of its’ cage). This effect is the transmission and spread of deadly diseases and infections that affect humans, domestic animals, and other wildlife.

Consider, wolves:

– Host (in their bodies, on their fur, and in the ticks they carry) many diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and prions (deformed proteins) as well as tapeworms and their eggs.

– Eat and mouth guts, brains, bone marrow, organs, and body fluids of the domestic and wild animals they kill. Injured, sick, or dead animals or humans are also fair game and food when encountered by wolves.

– Visit human residences, towns, garbage areas, etc. as they utilize paths and roads of all sorts as they wander, especially at night.

– Leave saliva on things they pick up, sneeze, bleed, urinate, and leave feces in yards, by buildings, on paths and other areas frequented by dogs (leashed and unleashed), kids, and adults.

– When killing deer, elk or moose tend to frequent one such area after another as they pick up and carry diseases from one game area to another. The same applies to wolves killing domestic animals like cattle and sheep wherein pastures and like areas are frequented and any exposure to livestock diseases is carried to other livestock areas.

– Far more than any other wildlife from coyotes and bears to skunks and raccoons, travel over vast areas routinely as they forage for food. From one day to the next they can move miles unlike big game animals or other wildlife. Thus wolf exposure to diseases is far greater and the areas they might contaminate are vaster by far.

– Carry, sluff, and pick up a much greater number and diversity of ticks as they move about thereby increasing their exposure to tick-borne diseases and mixing tick populations and diseases to a greater degree.

– Like bats, move, sleep, and feed in groups such that what one is infected with, others likely pick up.

– Do not lend themselves to mandatory, quick, lethal controls in areas of disease outbreaks from rabies and foot-and-mouth to Mad cow and Brucellosis. While more local animals can be poisoned and shot to contain the spread of infections, a pack of wolves or a lone wolf moving through a pasture infected with anthrax or a deer winter yard infected with Chronic Wasting Disease at 2 in the morning and then four miles away by sunup is unlikely to be traced as the disease or infection is transmitted.

Here is a list of what unvaccinated dogs and wolves are known to carry and transmit. It is not as comprehensive as might be found in the research files (were they to exist) of honest researchers concerned about human health, human safety, livestock industry, hunting, game populations, dogs of all stripes, rural economies, rural families, private property, and limited government. Frankly, such “researchers do not currently exist.

1.PRION-CAUSED diseases carried by wolves, remembering that prions can exist for weeks on grass or on boots or on carpets or on fur or between toes as well as in bodies where they can re-infect other animals:

Mad Cow Disease

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (the deadly human form of Mad Cow)

– Associated PRION-caused human diseases like Type II Diabetes, Artherosclerosis, Cataracts, Cystic Fibrosis, a type of Emphysema, Dementia, Alzheimers, and others.

Chronic Wasting Disease

2.BACTERIA-CAUSED diseases carried by wolves and/or the ticks they carry:

Bubonic Plague

Anthrax (A Bio Warfare agent)

Brucellosis

Undulant Fever (the human variant of Brucellosis and Bio Warfare agent)

Lyme Disease

Typhus

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Relapsing Fever

Erlichia

Anaplasmosis

Babesiosis

Tick Paralysis

Dermatosis

3.VIRAL-CAUSED diseases carried by wolves:

Foot (Hoof)-and-Mouth

Rabies (55K die annually from this worldwide)

Distemper

Parvo

Encephalitis

4.TAPEWORM DISEASES (deadly and debilitating) that wolves carry:

Echinococcus granulosis

Echinococcus multilocularis

Neospora caninum (causes abortions)

GID or Sturdy that infects brains

5.MITE-CAUSED diseases carried by wolves:

Three kinds of mange or scabies.

This short list, composed by a retired wildlife biologist, is certainly incomplete yet it contains 28 separate diseases and infections. Most of these affect humans and all can infect domestic dogs that; like work boots, dogs or other objects can bring Prions, Bacteria, and Viruses into homes where children will be exposed to infected carpets, dog tongues and other things, much like the mysterious ways that Africans “get” Ebola from bats. – Only there won’t be any US CDC spending millions to figure out where the infection came from or how the kid or grandma came down with it before dying.

Even if someone did figure it out, just like the Ebola researchers, the US investigators would think first of the “valuable ecological resource”, i.e. wolves and how to avoid any contact in the future. Only just like “Fladry”, “Noisemakers”, “recordings”, night watchmen, and moving the remaining people elsewhere by totally destroying their communities; nothing short of the way our wise forefathers “managed” wolves will ever work. They might even, out of respect for Gaia (the Nature God they are being taught to worship), ignore the evidence and look elsewhere (more career-compatible) for the source.

You see, wolf “science” was and is tailored to achieve political ends and Americans that get in the way are just as expendable as those Africans that have the misfortune to live where bats infected with Ebola call home!

Jim Beers

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To Catch A Wolf – Part V

Links to Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV

If we are ever to consider “catching” a wolf, we need first to understand it. This has become a difficult task, especially here in the United States because most who advocate for wolves, seemingly those with all the money and resources to do so, aren’t at all interested in telling the truth about this animal. Why is it that in efforts to discover the truth about this large and sometimes vicious predator, advocates mount bigger campaigns to counter those truths with lies, information designed to mislead the public?

In the West we love our stories about Nikki: Dog of the North and Jack London’s other creation of Call of the Wild. In our romantic fantasies we want to be friends with canines that are portrayed as our best friends, cute and cuddly. The reality is wolves are none of these and there are many other myths that we have been programmed to believe as true.

Most of us will never see a wolf in the wild. Most of us will never have a desire to “catch” a wolf. Some of us are going to be forced to at some point and hopefully we’ll never reach the degree of problems our ancestors faced all around the globe, the result of which was lack of wildlife management and the taking away of the God-given rights of people to self protection.

In the previous four parts in this series (see links above) we have traveled across parts of North American, Russia, France, Italy and made mention of other countries that historically have faced wolf problems. We now are going to travel to Scandinavia where we will take a look at two aspects of the wolves there – attacks on humans and methods used to kill wolves.

No matter where we traveled, we found out that wolves vary in sizes and color. We know that the characteristics of wolves also vary depending on several factors, including habitat, time of year and the influences of climate, to name a few.

One thing that I have discovered in reading the many accounts of wolves and hunting wolves is that often what and how the writer conveyed their message depended a great deal on their own experiences and perceptions of the events at hand. Let me give an example.

Scandinavian Adventures by Llewelyn Lloyd was written in 1854. It contains numerous accounts of wolf/human encounters and detailed descriptions of wolf habits and of course methods on how the people in Scandinavia captured and/or killed the beast they so much hated.

I chuckled at one point and then read on with my jaw agape, when Lloyd wrote that wolves seldom attack people.

Though wolves are so numerous in Scandinavia, and commit such considerable ravages amongst cattle, they do not often molest man.

I will concur here with Lloyd’s statement that wolves were numerous during this time in Scandinavia, having to this point already read what seems an unending accounting of the savage events involving wolves in this country and the destruction of private property.

After stating that wolves “do not often molest man”, Lloyd fills many pages documenting several of at least 20 accounts of wolves killing humans just during one winter. This doesn’t account for the attacks on humans that didn’t result in death.

I would assume we need to conclude that it is all relative as to what we become accustomed to in our everyday lives. That one man can so boldly state that wolves seldom attack man, yet view the deaths of at least 20 people, mostly children, as somehow insignificant, certainly baffles my mind but I’ve never had to live with wolves on a daily basis. In all of North America we struggle to accept the death of one man in Canada a couple years ago.

As with all the other countries we’ve visited, Lloyd tells us that the wolf is despised in Scandinavia too. He states that from the beginning of time, wolves have been hated and that they were the “plague and torment of the land”.

The Scandinavian wolf is characterized as having a “most ravenous appetite” and at times when food is not available to the wolf, he will actually ingest dirt and mud in order to quell the hunger pains. If all goes well, he will regurgitate the mud once he has killed prey to eat. The author tells us of instances when a wolf howls incessantly from the pain caused by eating and puking up the dirt.

“He can suffer hunger and hardships for a long time, which is common for beasts of prey, according to the Creator’s wise institution; for their provision is uncertain, and comes accidentally, and at irregular intervals. When his hunger becomes too great, he’ll eat clay if it is to be had; and this, as it is not to be digested, remains in his belly till he gets flesh, and that works it off violently; and then he is heard to howl most dismally for pain;

One farmer who killed a wolf, opened the animal’s stomach up to see what it had been eating and found it full of moss and the tops of birch trees.

Lloyd tells us that Scandinavia is “exempt from rabies”. I can’t confirm that to actually be the case but he is quite convinced there were never any cases of rabies recorded at least up until this time in history. Part of the reason for bringing this up is that in his list of wolf encounters, all occurred with what appear to be healthy animals. This dispels the myth that only diseased wolves will attack a human.

Like with all the other accounts we’ve examined, wolves in Scandinavia are most dangerous during the long winter months, when food is scare and the animals run in very large packs. People traveled most often by sleigh or horse and during these times some where allowed to have guns for protection as it was common for packs of wolves to attack and follow the travelers.

The author tells readers that when the wolf is hungry and in packs, they seem not afraid of anything, boldly entering barns and enclosed pastures taking whatever they wanted, sometimes barely reacting to the beating by farmers with clubs, sticks and rocks.

The story here gives us an indication of excess killing. In modern times, at least here in North America, we have coined the term “surplus killing” to characterize the act of wolves killing far more prey than they ever intend to eat.

The wolf is amongst the most voracious of beasts. The slaughter he commits in the fold is at times terrible; and he frequently kills ten times more than he can devour. Hence it would appear, he is impelled rather by a mere love of destroying, than by hunger.

I read recently the account of one wildlife biologist who said that surplus killing did occur with wolves and domestic animals but rarely happened with wild animals, particularly large game animals. Even though I have had the opportunity to read accounts of and view pictures of what seem to show surplus killings of deer and elk by wolves, biologists, for whatever their motives, seem quick to come to the rescue of the wolf and state that it may appear the wolves killed needlessly but will return at a later date and clean up the mess. This brings the discussion to one that now becomes quite subjective. If a pack of wolves during one attack session kills 20 elk and then leaves without eating any of them, one can argue that the wolves will return to clean up later, yet we have no way of knowing that.

I find it a tough pill to swallow that wolves will only “surplus kill” domestic animals and not wild ones. The game manager making the statement backed his theory by saying that most livestock have had all sense of fighting back bred out of them. I have never witnessed alive any attack by wolves on deer and elk, but in most of the video I’ve seen, the deer and elk aren’t fighting back. They may run and stand their ground for a time but are soon outnumbered or worn down to defeat.

I can concur that it would appear much easier, if I were a wolf, to enter an enclosed area housing 100 sheep and killing them all, than to run down and kill 100 elk or deer. This doesn’t however dispel the idea that wolves do not “surplus kill” elk and deer. The task may be more difficult but the voraciousness of the wolf is on display no matter what animal it is attempting to kill. If a pack kills any number of game animals they don’t consume or haul away, we can say there was surplus killing.

The landscape of much of Scandinavia provided excellent habitat for wolves and as a result, there were many to contend with. The habitat also prevented hunting the wolf in what is referred to as a common method – using dogs and people to drive wolves out of the thick forests into openings or fields where the wolves could be shot. There were just too many intermingled, dense forests where wolves could essentially hide forever. This brought extra challenges upon the citizenry to protect themselves and devise other means of killing wolves and killing as many as they could all at once.

The presence of wolves was an extreme burden on the people. It is described in some places as being the most difficult thing in life to deal with. Here in the West we think stories like Little Red Riding Hood were created from some fairy tale dreamed up by a fanciful writer.

Not only do our children’s books relate some of the experiences people had years ago, the angst and outright hatred that grew toward the wolf had people believing the the wolf was an incarnation of Satan himself. As backwards as this may seem to the modern West, we’ve never really had to deal with anything so frightful and controlling, with the dominance of a vicious predator. It was as bad or even worse than any plague.

The people persevered and one way that helped was the creation of devises and methods to catch, trap and kill wolves. In the northern areas of Scandinavia, the Lapps often strapped on their skis, or skidor they were called, armed themselves with a 12-foot long pointed spear and headed into areas thought to have wolves.

The conditions needed to be right so that the snow was such that wolves couldn’t run away and yet the hunters could remain on top of the snow with their skis and navigate to where the wolves were, spearing them to death. A good downhill run seemed a good opportunity.

Sooner or later, however, he is necessitated to quit the ” vantage-ground,” and betake himself once more to the forest or the fjall, as the case may be. Thus the chase may continue for a day or two, until the beast is fairly worn out with hunger and fatigue, when his pursuers are enabled to close with him—generally on the long slope of a hill—and to put an end to his miseries and his life.

Seldom would enough wolves be killed to have any real affect on limiting the wolf kills on the reindeer herds. However, under the right conditions, there is a recorded event of around 70 wolves being killed in one week using this method of skis and spears.

As I mentioned earlier, hunting wolves by foot or horseback in the “traditional” manner was quite ineffective. Lloyd explains it this way.

Little in the shape of wolf-hunting—such at least as accords with our notions of hunting—is practised in Sweden; and that little is, from necessity, always followed on foot. From the difficult nature of the ground, and the peculiar style of fence, it would be quite an impossibility to pursue that beast on horseback.

And thus the most effective means to deal with wolf populations was devised – locate the dens and kill the cubs. Lloyd goes to great lengths offering advice on how best to locate the dens. As a bonus, hunters would set a trap for the she-wolf and kill it when it returned to the den area.

The she-wolf does not, like the fox, litter in deep holes in the ground, where it is difficult to get at the cubs; but under boulders, under the stumps of uprooted trunks, in close thickets, or beneath spruce-pine trees, the branches of which hang to the very ground; and for this reason, when the Lya is found, one can readily take and destroy the cubs.

“One of the number, however, should be retained alive, that by means of its cries the mother may be killed also. The object is best effected by erecting a screen of boughs, near to the lair, where two of the hunting party (the rest retiring to a distance) secrete themselves, and shoot her on her return home. This is hastened by the piteous lament of her offspring, who at some four feet from the ground, is suspended by the hind leg to a neighbouring tree. But the men, at such times, should face in opposite directions, so that one or the other will be sure to see her when she first makes her appearance, as she then comes much nearer to the ambush than afterwards.”

The event of locating wolf lyas (lairs) and destroying the cubs is a community-wide event employing large groups of people. A continued effort each year to do this seemed somewhat effective in keeping wolf populations in check.

Another method used by the Scandinavians, particularly in areas overrun with wolves was called a Skall-platser. Essentially, an area is located in which bait is deposited in great amounts over long periods of time. This often consisted of dead animals.

During the time of year, mostly winter, when the wolves were both hungry and packing together in larger numbers, hunters, numbering as high as 600 hundred would surround the baited area where no wolf could escape. Canine slaughter ensued.

During a period of about 7 years, it is recorded that 35 of these Skalls took place, resulting in the killing of over 200 wolves, including cubs. This may have been the most effective means of killing larger numbers of wolves at one time but I believe the most effective long term was killing the cubs and she-wolves. One of the problems with carrying out the Skalls was the expense and the time commitment in keeping the area baited.

Scandinavia also employed the use of live, squealing pigs on a winter sleigh to lure the wolves out while hunters riding the sleigh shot them. I covered this in more detail in Part I.

In all of the stories covered in this multi-part article, people resorted to the creation and use of traps. Most of them to catch an individual wolf but as we learned earlier, elaborate contraptions were designed to capture many wolves at one time.

While individual traps served the purpose of maybe taking care of one or two problem wolves that were killing livestock, it did virtually nothing to control wolf populations.

What we should have at least learned through all of this is that wolves are most difficult to “catch”. We read here in Scandinavia that the terrain and habitat was such that much of it was impossible to hunt on foot or horseback. In all the stories, the authors made no bones about the fact that wolf population controls had to be done on a consistent basis and the only way to accomplish this was with the use of hunting dogs. There was nothing very scientific about any of it. They knew there were too many wolves and no matter what they did, there were always too many wolves.

I’ve pointed out numerous times that as the United States readies itself for a rapidly expanding population of wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes, I have little confidence that we are prepared to handle the problem or at least take care of it in a timely matter.

Idaho, a state that is eager to get the federal government off its back and out of its state, has written up preliminary rules to govern wolf hunts. None of the rules allow for any of the methods I’ve described or provided for you from history past. I’m not advocating for the employment of these methods but we have to use history to teach us that a hunter alone with a gun is no good.

With a wolf population growing at a rate of near 30% in some places, sending a man and his rifle into the woods to kill a wolf will do nothing to stop or slow the rate of growth. With the proper management of wolves, it should be known whether the state wants to reduce, maintain or grow the wolf population in certain wildlife management areas. This is readily accomplished through the issuance of tags or quotas. When the quota is taken the hunt ends. If this be the case, then why put so many restrictions on the hunter? It really makes little sense?

We have areas now where the deer and elk are being killed by wolves at a rate that some fear is approaching or has surpassed recovery. Presently our hands are tied as wildlife managers are at the mercy of the federal government and having to be in compliance with an Endangered Species Act that has morphed into a political activists’ tool.

If the day comes when each state is granted permission to manage the wolf, we have to be ready, knowledgeable about the wolf and its habits and prepared to implement the necessary tools to accomplish the needed tasks.

I hope that this article and the other four parts can serve as a means of gaining a better, more truthful understanding of the wolf. Learning about the truth shouldn’t be something we fear. It is fought against only by those with hidden agendas.

Tom Remington

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