Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No White Shoes After Labor Day and The Meaning of Life

It's elk season up here in this corner of the White Mountains and men in camouflage from head to toe are skulking around normally quiet lanes on their ATV's . I know where they buy their outfits - Western Drug in Springerville has everything from undies to aprons in muted drab olive. It also carries ammunition, guns - everything to make a man look and act the part of hunter.

Elk season brings out the yahoos. No other way of putting it. Yahoos who have no respect for private property, who break the cardinal rule of the west by opening and failing to shut gates, who disdain posted signs and give hunters a bad name. Not that I have any particular affection for hunters or hunting but for some it is a legitimate sport and way of filling the freezer.

A few weeks back the leaving open of a gate invited my neighbor's miniature (and that descriptor is a misnomer - these guys are big) Angus trio to wander into my pasture. They are docile animals and I have no objection to them mowing for me - but I was concerned that they might be able to cross the cattle guard and wander down the lane. I played round -up for an hour - shoo cow, shoo bull, move it! I was up that day - had I been down in town there was a real possibility that these animals could have wandered off my property and into harm's way.

Over the weekend one of these so called sportsmen cornered a cow elk up against a neighbors barn and no doubt thrilled at the chase and kill of a trapped animal. Despite it being a crime to shoot a weapon within a quarter mile of a dwelling Game and Fish professed they were helpless because the man claimed he was only "field dressing" at that spot, that he had shot the animal elsewhere.

I spent yesterday posting signs on my property line - walking the fences and attaching legally binding signs every 300 yards or so. Keep Out. Private Property. No Trespassing. No Hunting. No Discharging of Weapons. No Fishing. According to Arizona law, to give would be trespassers a "fair chance" you have to post a minimum of every quarter mile. I did some fence mending along the way too. The elk have taken down sizable stretches of my old style wood post and barbed wire fencing. I'm investigating solar powered electrical strand fencing to replace the original. In areas where we know the elk cross we ran rubber casing over the wire to encourage them to stick to one spot. For the most part they do.

As I hammered nails and twisted wire to secure the signs I was thinking of other prohibition signs seen over the years. One that gave me the giggles many years ago was in a snooty country club in Rhode Island. "Ladies are reminded that white shoes are inappropriate wear after Labor Day. Gentlemen members are encouraged to forgo shorts after the same date". Another was on a fence surrounding a chemical plant in the Baltimore area - "Peering through holes in this fence is prohibited". And a much more pragmatic and to the point sign at a street market in England - "If you don't want the goods, don't muck'em about".

As for the meaning of life - that's where James Taylor came into play last night. The glass doors for the big , double sided rock fireplace here are out for repair. It got a bit nippy after sundown and in my post fence mending haze decided that I could light a fire and use firescreens either side to prevent sparks leaping out. I had ignored the design of this fireplace! Closed doors encourage the draft, without them smoke billowed into the great room and set off the smoke alarms which are conveniently located around 20ft. up on the walls! Doors and windows open fans full blast, it took over an hour to clear the smoke and meanwhile the alarms screeched and no amount of batting at them with an extension pole quietened them - hence James Taylor full volume . I know the words now to The meaning of Life - still a bit hazy about what it means in reality!


  1. Sounds as though you could use a handyman!

  2. Hunting season for deer starts here soon. As much as I dislike killing, I know there are many around here who won't eat meat this winter unless they get a deer.
    But we get the yahoos too - met up with one a couple of years ago who was walking along the road at dusk, firing off potshots into the field.
    You've written a great post.

  3. Thanks Debbie. I agree, for some there is valid reason for hunting - meat in the freezer. For a few though it's an opportunity to behave like total idiots and endanger life, limb and peace of others! My high horse. Bring on the legitimate hunters; ban the thrill seekers.


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