Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Beautiful Day for Running Dogs

Today broke crisp and clear, with temperatures in the high 30s (F). Lynn Orbison and I took dogs out on training runs this morning. First run I took Amazing Grace and her rowdy kennel-mate Scooby Doo on a run with the Sacco cart. Here is a video clip of their awesome performance. Sorry that it's a bit crooked, I'm still trying to learn how to adjust my helmet cam.

After the cart run Lynn and I hooked up an 8 dog team for a run with the four-wheeler (ATV). Our team this morning included Truly, Ice, Rose (one of my Hedlund pups), Minnie, Spruce (a truly lovable small dog that runs like the wind), Bobcat, Seamus (my Alaskan husky / Anatolian shepherd dog mix), and Valentine. We just wandered through the neighborhood at aoubt 10 miles per hour, stopping to swap out lead dogs from time to time, and doing everything we could to make sure all the dogs enjoyed a nice, fun run. We couldn't have asked for a nicer fall day, nor any better way of enjoying it.

It is moose hunting season up here, and Sunday afternoon a young man killed a cow moose on my property. He did not have permission to hunt on my land and I was actually rather proud that I controlled my anger as I confronted him. His first statement was "Well, your property isn't posted." I reminded him that it is the hunter's responsibility to ascertain the ownership status of land in Alaska, not the landowner's responsibility to post. At that point he became very embbarassed, admitted that my statement is correct and that he was in the wrong.

He's a young guy with a wife and kids to feed (they were with him), and what's done can't be undone. I hope I embarrassed him just enough that he'll think twice before hunting in someone else's front yard. I asked him to deliver parts of the animal that would otherwise go to waste to me (the hide and lower legs, for dog bones), which he did. He also hauled his gut pile away so as to not attract bears, which I also demanded. Perhaps I should have demanded 1/4 of the meat, but he is after all just trying to feed his family, and I have only myself to worry about. Maybe I'm too nice of a guy sometimes, though.

This is becoming more and more of a problem out here in Two Rivers. I'm a hunter, and I bought my land in hopes of being able to hunt in my own front yard from time to time. Still, I can certainly understand why more and more landowners are up in arms over slobs not bothering to even stop in and ask permission. Over the past decade I have had 2 different hunters kill moose on my small 10 acre parcel without so much as a "by your leave."

The real problem is the "road hunters", people who creep up and down the highway in hopes of spotting something they can legally kill. The practice involves a lot more driving than hunting, it is no test of skill or woodscraft at all. In an area as densely populated as Two Rivers has become it is also very dangerous.

I understand that the Department of Fish and Game has already received numerous complaints about these wannabe nimrods already this season, and the situation is not likely to improve. If road hunters don't start incorporating some basic ethics, such as paying attention to the questionable impropriety of hunting on private land without permission or endangering homeowners by indiscriminately cruising the highway in hopes of spotting something in the very limited State right-of-way, they may find themselves persona non grata and be facing additional a popular movement to prohibit road hunting, not to mention jail time and fines for trespassing and reckless endangerment. I can't say that would oppose such regulation.

In any event, so far this R&R I've been able to stick to my original plan, to run dogs in the mornings, take care of miscellaneous chores around the house and yard during mid-day. I haven't gone out to hunt myself during evenings only because I haven't been particularly motivated. I do plan to get out during the next few evenings, but I'm not terribly worried about it. If I harvest a moose it will be a wonderful addition to the larder, but if I don't other opportunities will be available during winter, and I might even be able to combine a moose hunt with a dog mushing expedition.

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