Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Travel: Broken down and stranded in Nipton, CA

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Since last time we have pulled up stakes after 20 some days gunning desert quail (Gambel's) and headed north toward Death Valley but...After battling two days wind we pulled into Searchlight, NV for fuel and...crap...truck will not start. To make a long depressing story short we finally did get it going and after much fussing n fuming headed over the mountains to...Nipton, CA where the GD thing at last died...DIW again after much fussing and fretting and not a little fuming called in the tow truck and...the truck is now in Las Vegas we is in Nipton (pop 10 give or take) and faced with a $2500 get out free ticket should the GD diesel dicks ever get thru ripping us off...But we have cell service another long sad story too friggin painful to discuss at this point in time...and we have internet...and we have about a zillion loud trucks and really loud trains running through our digs at all hours the night...but we have met a bunch of folks, mostly hippie sorts, all of which have by choice dropped off the radar and...are we happy? Hell yes....Are we broke...Hell yes... Will we ever make it outta Dodge? Who the hell knows...Gale says ditto...Sisters just yawn and get on with it... probably good advice...you betcha...over and out...Chuck

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Travel:Still Chasin' Little Chickens in the Arizona Desert

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Upon landing in Arizona in late December our mission has been to not only search and destroy as many desert quail as possible, bearing in mind the shootist's advanced age, the Sisters relative unfamiliarity with the Sonoran Desert and all its many hazardous pitfalls and, well as I write this all of us, including, Gale, our commander and chief and photo guru in residence, are beginning to wear down considerably. Our most recent plan is to hang out here until Sunday and then slowly wind our way north. Until then we will try to at least hunt a few hours each day, shoot a few bird photos and generally try to heal up a bit before making the long trek back to Montany.

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Since January 1 we have been camped in the desert sort of east of Tuscon, hunting daily, sipping bourbon while gawking the nightly sunset and falling asleep to the wild and wonderful yodeling of the local song dog pack. The hunting has been about as good as it has ever been for us. The shooting at times leaves much to be desired but what the hell, you can only eat so many quails anyway...right? Right. The dogs have handled the cholla cacti, at times, to put it bluntly, quite miserably, perhaps their way of gettin even with the shootist...who knows? Who cares. Overall both have been really fun and enjoyable companions which of course means more to us at this stage than anything.

Gale as usual has provided us with one feast after another although I must take full credit for the exemplary tail-gate lunches...Tis I of course filleting yet another peanut butter sandwich, another batch peanut butter/jelly crackers and of course bringing to the picnic the expertise necessary to open Gale's daily yogurt...

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So for now that's about it. We will probably land in Montana sometime around the first of February depending on how long we dawdle in Death Valley and Nevada on the way. I will post as often as I can find internet but since we didn't have much luck on the trip down, don't hold yer breath.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Travel: Arizona Rattlesnakes

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This blacktail rattlesnake is just one of 18 found in Arizona. Fortunately in all our hunting trips down here we have seen just one; a large specimen (no I did not check its ID so...) found sunning itself half in and half out a pack rat hole our first trip. But this time around we hit the jackpot so to speak. A visit to the Sonoran Desert Museum (don't miss this one should you find yourself in the area) just outside Tucson lucky us (Gale would not agree) the program of the day was on rattlesnakes and gila monsters (I'll post more on these ugly brutes later). From that I was able to glean the following which I am posting just for you followers entainment; since you are by now sitting on pins and needles here goes:

Arizona is the rattlesnake capital of the U.S. with 18 species; Sonora, MX is the world capital with 25 species.

Southern Arizona has no rattlesnake “season”; snakes are active 12 months of the year be especially alert anytime temperatures rise into the upper 60s, 70s and beyond.

Arizona hospitals treat on average about 350 rattlesnake bites annually. About 1/3 are considered “legitimate” bites, those in which the victim had no interaction with the snake; 60 to 70 year old males dominate this classification. The remaining 2/3 are considered “illegitimate” whereby the victim was in some way interacting with the snake; handling, harassing, etc. Of the “illegitimate” bites a large majority are suffered by young, intoxicated, tattoo laden, males (15-30 years old) many of which are missing teeth (I’m not making this up). About 10-13 percent of the bites are “dry”, i.e. no venom injected; on average about 3 victims per year die.

Anti-venom used to be derived from serum taken from horses; in those days the majority of deaths were the result of side effects such as anaphylactic shock and severe allergic reactions. Anti-venom today is derived from sheep, carefully cleaned and such deaths are rare. The downside anti-venom has become outrageously expensive. Depending where you can expect to pay anywhere from $1500 to as much as $5000 per vial. Most snakebites require multiple vials to reverse the tissue damage. Add in doctor and hospital fees, perhaps emergency transport and such and don’t be surprised to find a bill in the mail in excess of $250,000 (this is not a typo). Severe cases have been known to push the half-million mark.

In places like southern Arizona snakes seldom den in large numbers; rarely den deep beneath the surface. Like others desert rattlers den in rocky areas but many simply crawl into a pack rat midden to ride out the cold spells.

If bitten forget all those first-aid treatments you might have read or heard. The best advice is remain calm, immobilize the bite area as much as possible, keep the bite as close to “heart high” as possible and get to a hospital as quickly as possible. The quicker anti-venom is applied the better but is effective even hours or days later if necessary.

Since I did not take any notes no doubt there is more to learn on this fascinating critter as more info drips from my sorry brain I will pass it along...over and out...


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Desert Odyssey Continues...

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Nothing like a little humor to brighten an otherwise dull, damp (wet as hell) day in the AZ desert. The hunt continues of course rain or shine and finally, no make that FINALLY our fortunes have taken a turn for the better. After fleeing Alamo area we managed to live through Phoenix and next day landed in Oracle. A familiar spot as we have hunted here every time down in the desert. Last time was pretty much a bust and the hunt was saved only when we found Mearn's numbers off the charts down Patagonia way but...But this time around...well this time around we are finding Gambel's if not exactly up to the numbers we found them 8 or 9 years ago but there are plenty...last 3 days we have averaged probably 50-60 bird contacts. Today we averaged a little more than 1 covey per hour...Might not raise the eyebrows of those who remember 500 bird days but after the horrendous start to this hunt I'm here to tell you 50 plus looks mighty damn good. Early on the Sisters had major problems with cactus then yesterday nothing...but man dear did they make up for it today. Kate got herself stuck really good barging through a cholla (why? ask her) and later I found Annie standing with a look on her face clearly said, "Dad please I need help" All four feet were wall to wall chollas, gotta hurt and you'd think by now...well ain't no sense in speculatin...maybe tomorrow.

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For the uniniated this here is a juvenile Gambel's rooster

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And in case you wondered this here is where the quails dwell and a course tis yours truly a staggerin amongst the stickies...