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Plague spreads from Prairie Dogs to Squirrels
By Kathleen Kalina
Bubonic Plague, the Black Death that killed 1/3 of Europeans in the 17th
century due to flea ridden rats has now infected squirrels.
The most common rodents who has been commonly known today to carry this deadly plague are Prairie dogs.
Now it seems that the same plague has jumped to squirrels.
Most people do not come in contact with Prairie dogs except hunters who actively hunt them. Now squirrel hunters will have to take a second thought about hunting.
Photo of Prairie dogs found west of
Missouri River in the United States.
The Angeles National forest has been closed due to the contaminated squirrels.
Sign showing closed forest.
In the west, 4 people have already contracted the plague from squirrels. Even though we have antibiotics to cure the plague, it’s a nasty thought to know it’s alive and moving from one rodent to a common rodent. A man in Oregon was taking a rodent out of his cat’s mouth and was bitten resulting in the plague.
Prairie dog hunters have been aware of the plague for a long time and know to never touch the dead animal. Eagles and hawks usually pick up the carcass as food and they are immune. Zoonosis is
the name of diseases that jump from animals to humans.
A flea is contaminated with the plague bacteria and spreads it to a rodent. In the European plague dead infected rats were plentiful.
Flea with bacteria containing bubonic
plague inside (dark area).
The first US episode of black death came to San Francisco in 1900 from rats on ships from Asia. Rupert Blue was the first public health doctor to get control of the epidemic. He ordered the extermination of rats by bounty hunters (50 cents per rat) and by ordering the installation of concrete in order to rat proof dirt basements.
Politicians tried to cover up the epidemic to prevent a quarantine
of the entire city which would be bad for business. After the 1906 earthquake rats flourished again and had to be controlled.
Plague was first written about in 1650 B.C. as it spread through trade routes. Later 25 million died throughout the Roman empire in several waves of outbreaks. From 1647 until 1925 there has been 12 serious outbreaks worldwide. (17 outbreaks in Australia from 1900-1925).
The plague that affects present day rodents is a slightly less virulent type than the Black Death. Bubonic plague was named the Black Death because the large pustules and tongues of victims turned black in the late stages. The first symptoms are swollen areas around the flea bite.
Next, there are swollen lymph glands under the arms or in the groin or
extremities that turn black. (thus calling it the black death). Vomiting blood
or nausea follows. Those treated with antibiotics within 12 hrs have the best recovery.
The fact that the common squirrel has now contracted this feared disease changes the whole picture. Squirrel hunters are the first to take notice. However, since the plague in squirrels remains in the western US, that doesn’t mean that it won’t travel soon to other areas. Certainly, eating contaminated squirrels is at question.
by Jill Joines Christensen, Staff Writer, Georgia
Do you have a photo that is almost
All animals learn as they get older, so therefore, most hunters are able to kill the younger game while the wily older animals outsmart us. Bear, deer, coyote and wolf can see about as well as humans except for their extraordinary night vision. Also they can’t see blaze orange, which is a good thing for us since we have to wear it. Try putting an orange glove on the floor and your dog will walk right past it unless he smells it. The big advantage is that game animals have is their intense sense of smell. A bear can smell a scent over a mile. However, turkeys can see better than humans, but don’t have a good sense of smell.
Bears get taller and wider as they get older. So it’s not unusual to see a very old bear grow to a tremendous size.
Genetics and good food supply determine the longevity of an animal. Mammals that are around humans begin to pattern our movements and can out maneuver us. The distinct advantage that humans have is to think of new ways to change our patterns to outsmart the old animals.
My local NWTF chapter, River City Gobblers, wanted to honor a good friend of mine for his many contributions to the chapter, the community, and, especially, to the many wounded warriors he takes hunting year after year. I chose a detail-rich photo of Bill wearing a camo bug suit. I took it at the previous spring's opening day brunch, which my friend Burt Davis organizes with assistance from Bill. My chapter decided they wanted to have it engraved onto a wooden paddle (turkey) call.
Figure 1. Having studied printmaking, I started out thinking I must remove all but heavy outlines. Using Photoshop Elements, I applied a technique used in the movies to "drop out" actual backgrounds for replacement by another image, video, or animation. A fellow photo buff, my late friend Richard Reiss, taught me this technique. The film industry originally called it "blue screening" but now use "green screening" instead. Apparently green works better for them than blue. In this case, since the camo pattern had a lot of green in it, I chose blue. To "blue screen" Bill's image, I changed the background color to the blue you see here, selected the sky and ground behind him, and deleted them, leaving the background blue.
Figure 2. I increased the contrast so that the outlines were clear and painted out everything else I wanted to get rid of with a white (Photoshop Elements) brush. I followed the same procedures with an image of my paddle call, then I placed the call into Bill’s left hand.
Figure 3. I added text and then converted some of my own turkey track photos to line art. I arranged them in a curving pattern around Bill and the text.
Figure 4. After speaking with the callmaker, I learned that laser engraving can cut thinner lines than traditional woodcutting techniques. He suggested that I could add back some of the camo pattern in Bill’s suit.
|A good alternative to nails is using rope to affix structures to trees. This photo shows a rope suspended pulley system for using a gambrel to hoist a deer for hanging or dressing. No nails needed.|
Mud Season Survival
By Kathleen Kalina
Mud season is here and it can really swallow you up. Last year while turkey hunting, my truck went in liquid mud over the top of the wheels. Using a chain hooked up to my friends truck we pulled it out, but not before one chain snapped and flew back putting dents into my trucks tailgate. Be very careful to not stand close to chains when they are being pulled. They can easily snap if they aren’t in good condition.
|The rusted chain snapped when a Ford 350 tried to pull a Ford Ranger out of deep mud. The snap was so hard that it put dents over the length of the tail gate and up and over the tonneau cover. This reminds us to never stand near a chain under pressure and never use a rusty chain.
Make sure your safety kit is full of good working heavy duty chains. A tow rope is not for pulling a vehicle under pressure, it will break too.
What do you do if you are alone? You should always carry a long, heavy-duty chain, a couple of short 2 x 4's and a come-along winch (aka winch puller). Wrap the cable end of the winch puller to a tree and hook one end of the chain to the non tree side of winch puller hook and the other end of the chain to the vehicle. Crank the winch to pull the vehicle out. You should also have a buck saw to cut small trees down that you need to put under wheels.
Crank this handle to activate winch.
This end hooks
into a chain that is
attached to vehicle.
This side of winch puller has a cable that can pull out just long enough to wrap around tree or use hook to grab a chain around a bigger tree.
Women in the outdoors? You’ve heard the old saying that history repeats itself; our foremothers spent many, many hours in the outdoors. Granted, theirs was much more work-oriented than ours, but there’s no doubt they had to recognize the gentle beauty surrounding them.
Imagine stepping out your door on warm, summer mornings with the fragrance of the flowers in the air or the fresh clean smell of an early morning rain. The birds are singing their joyous cadences. The frogs in the nearby creek are croaking a much lower tune. In the woods, she could probably catch the gentle call of a hen turkey to her young, the chatter of the squirrels scrambling to gather breakfast.
My guess is they probably did their gardening and outside chores early in the morning. No doubt they felt tremendous pride as they nurtured their young plants, watching them grow toward the production of fresh fruits and vegetables. And I can picture the gleam in her eye as she brought in the first of the crop for her family’s meals. This was a real treat as they probably had a hard, cold winter and had long before used up their supply of canned goods. They surely had scoured the woods that spring in search of fresh greens and edible mushrooms and berries, which were truly a delight; but there was just something special about the produce that came from their hard work and labor.
Starting with the plowing of the ground, the scent of the fresh-turned earth had to be pleasurable. From there, they would mark out their rows for planting. I picture that in January and February they started many of their vegetable plants indoors to get an early start as the weather warmed. They probably spent cold February evenings planning the layout, dreaming of all they would harvest and put up for their family’s provisions. They may have even poured through a Henry Fields seed catalog, determining what to order, and then anxiously awaiting its arrival. I would think that for them, this was much like a child waiting for Santa.
Fear of not being able to provide enough mainstay for their family was probably the motivator for them to trek into the woods for a variety of wildlife. Many of their husbands would be gone for days, weeks, or months, on cattle drives or in search of a better life for their family. During times of war, women would be left to care for and provide for their family, animals, and ranch.
They didn’t have the advantage of camouflage clothing, the best of guns, game calls, and instructional videos. They had the instincts and intuition to go out and harvest deer, turkey, squirrel, rabbit, and any other game in their domain.
I can envision her excitement as she slips into the woods, not knowing what she might come home with, but knowing that whatever comes into shooting range is sure to end up as part of their next meal. They didn’t have an overabundance of ammunition, so they had to make each shot count.
While hunting, I’m sure the elegance of the wildflowers, dignity of the trees, and serenity of the surroundings became a part of their soul. The bright colors of the fall leaves, the sunlight filtering through the treetops, the soft moss-carpeted forest floor, and the aroma of the woods; none of it went unnoticed. They became a part of the scene.
Imagine how hard her heart must have been beating when the largest buck she ever saw came through trailing a doe not 20 yards from her makeshift blind. The majestic grandeur surely caused her to gasp a silent breath. As he neared her, she raised her gun or longbow, took a long deep breath, and held steady on the mighty creature. Then with all the confidence of a novice, she pulled the trigger or released the bow string.
I’m certain her first thought was of thankfulness for her family’s replenished food supply; gratefulness for the opportunity for a shot at this magnificent deer; and indebtedness for the provisions this would sustain.
On her way back to the ranch to hitch up the team to help her drag this huge buck home, the relief of knowing their subsistence was fulfilled for several weeks to come had to cause her to become a little giddy. She wasn’t certain, but her trained eye for measuring distance between plants in the garden caused her to suspect the horns were a bit taller and wider then her husband’s once-in-a-lifetime trophy hanging above their fireplace mantel. Maybe she would need to replace it with hers. A slight giggle surely slipped out in the quiet woods.
Her mind raced to Thanksgiving dinner, and she said a prayer of gratitude for the extravagant meal she could now prepare for her family. It didn’t stop at Thanksgiving, she raced on to Christmas. How excited Little John would be when he saw the deer hoof gun rack she would craft for him to hang his first rifle on. And Mary, she would cherish the soft warm feel of the deer hide pillow for her bed.
She undoubtedly chided herself after these thoughts, knowing her main concern at this point was to get the meat processed and put up for the winter. She would tuck away those thoughts for a later time; right now, she had work to do.
They had to take a lot of pride in all they did, and rightfully so. I’m in awe of what they accomplished with so little to work with. I try to fashion my life to them in some ways. With society and times the way they are now, we’ll never totally go back to their ways; but I am thankful for the many outdoor opportunities that today's women’s programs offer to us.
With a two-week Wyoming hunting trip looming just a month and a half away, and needing to haul gear from Minnesota for not only myself, but for three other women hunters, I knew my Suburban alone wouldn’t be able to carry all our cargo. We do own a couple open trailers, but oh how I wished I had an enclosed trailer for this trip!
As luck would have it, a couple friends of mine knew I was in want of a small-enclosed trailer, and they offered to give me their old one… for free! They sent me a photo of the trailer, and despite it being home made and battleship gray; I knew with a little work, it would work out just fine.
I knew that I would also need help from my family, as I was recently involved in an auto accident and was sporting a cast on my broken wrist. I couldn’t manipulate my right hand the way I needed to.
(You may notice some photos with me wearing a sock and a latex glove on my hand/arm to keep my cast clean and free from paint.)
First order of business was to pull the orange shag carpeting out! Why on earth that was ever placed in there was beyond me! Next I tore off all the cardboard that was stapled to the four inside walls.
Then I wrote down its inside dimensions and made a list of products that were needed for my makeover project. Rubber gaskets, paint, new ball hitch, vinyl flooring, chocolate, etc.
After a lunch of pizza and chocolate, my husband Mike and I headed to a couple of stores for the essentials, including more chocolate. We got started on our project that very afternoon.
With wire wheels attached to our power drills, we began stripping the peeling paint and the rust off the trailer. The metal fenders were first, then on to the wood base, and ending up on the tire rims. With all the paint and rust particles clinging to the trailer, a good spraying with some Extreme Green degreaser and a shower with the pressure washer was in order. We let it dry and vowed to continue with the project tomorrow.
Day 2 and beyond
We were able to get all the hardware off, lightly sand the wood in those areas, and pull off the old gasket that was used as weather stripping. That was actually the tedious part, as there were so many staples that needed to be pulled, many of which broke as we pulled. The brittle broken staples that were left behind in the wood got center punched below the surface.
Next we painted two coats over all the metal, wood, and then the wheel rims to keep any corrosion from appearing any time soon.
Mike re-greased all the ball bearings in the wheels to avoid any freeze-ups, as the trailer was old and hadn’t been used for many years.
Painting the camo colored blotches is what I have been looking forward to most. We had to mix some colors to get the desired color we wanted for a particular camo blotch. Like Almond and Leather Brown mixed together made a nice tan. Almond, Hunter Green and a little Black made a more desired Olive Drab color.
The outside of the trailer was completely “camo-ized”, and was now ready for the almond paint for the inside of the trailer.
With the inside paint now added, son Daniel cut and laid a light-colored vinyl remnant for the new flooring. It looks so much better than that orange shag carpeting! Unfortunately, the smell of new paint and vinyl would linger for a long time. I placed several Earth Scented wafers inside and hoped they would work.
Daniel also added some old Rambler hubcaps that we had hanging up in our garage. Why not use them on the trailer! I think it makes it look snazzy!!
Lastly, hardware, reflectors, weather stripping, new ball hitch and lights all finished off the trailer.
Now it would be ready for my trip west! Get the chocolate!!
Finally on the road!!
Completely filled with bowhunting gear…. Treestands, ground blinds and a whole lot more!
This hunting trailer was a fun endeavor to undertake. I can’t thank friends Owen and Heidi enough for providing this unique trailer for me, and my family for helping out in a big way! Also, my bowhunting lady friends, giving it names like “The Pod,” “The Deer Coffin,” and “The Treasure Chest.”
It was certainly eyesight for others to see rolling down the highway. I think maybe they liked it as much as we did! Now it’ll be handy for all my future hunting adventures. Stay tuned!
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