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blizzard warnings - 13:52 , 03 October 2013

heelerless - 21:32 , 18 August 2013

Red Coat Inn in Fort McLeod - 11:38 , 23 June 2013

rushing into the waters - 09:53 , 21 June 2013

choosing a spot - 17:43 , 27 April 2013

07 October 2002 - 10:44

testicles and velvet

Just some quick notes from Saturday, before the sisters and I head out to collect sage grouse wings and the wing barrels (sage-grouse season closed yesterday).

My south check station is a mile or so south of our community, just east of the Continental Divide. It's a broad, low place in the continental crest, hence the crossings by the railroad and highway. But the location gives me occasional opportunities to spot unusual birds as they cut across from the north uplift to the hills and mountains to the south.

Have seen peregrine falcons from this spot in the sage twice.

No peregrines this weekend, but Saturday morning started my day with two prairie falcons, wending their way south together. And hundreds of crows, rolling and boiling over each other as they do, just clearing the highway fences.

A whole bunch of nonresident hunters from the three west coast states have been put into a catch-22 bind this year. Their home states, fearing an invasion of CWD from our Rocky Mtn states, have banned the import of any head or spine of harvested deer or elk (like they haven't been getting that for the past 30 years). Requiring all meat to be deboned and packaged. But our state, like most others, requires hunters to retain some evidence of sex attached to the carcass.

Usually the head. But if you can't take the head home, then you need to keep the sex organs. The testicles (usually in their scrotum).

Don't think I've ever said the word "testicles" as much as I did this weekend. Occassionally switched to "nuts" or "balls", just for variety, but you have to be careful with those terms. Almost never used with females present, and never used with kids around. Always "testicles" then.

Basically, the only way to be legal in both our state and their home states is to leave the "testicles" attached to a major muscle of the rump, by the tubes, and package it in with that chunk of meat.

Those uneasy with having hairy balls in with their raw meat usually skinned the scrotum and left just the little white testicle in the bag with the roast (attached by connective tissue and tubes, of course).

Don't think I've ever checked quite so many testicles before. Feel like a urologist in San Francisco.

Needless to say, some folks got into trouble. Legal trouble. Wardens were understanding. Each of mine wrote warnings for these violations at my check station this weekend, rather than citations. But in each of those cases, the hunters had tried to be legal for each state. They just cut things loose that shouldn't have been cut.

One crew of northwesterners will probably never come back, though. They had their deer's testicles, but all separate in baggies. So all five got written warnings. (Which are not innocuous... that gets your name in the computer, and next time you screw up, the next warden will know you've done it before. Don't expect a break then.) Delayed their departure from our state by an hour or so (most of them used my gravel piles... should have charged admission).

Then, after they left, the warden checked their signatures.

How do you possibly sign a last name that begins with a "W" with an obvious "C"? And this was the only one of the five that didn't want to retrieve his license, as it was buried deep in the trailer. And the warden was kind enough to let that by, since they already had problems.

But stealing a hunt in our state by using someone else's license is a common offense. With stiff penalty. And unless the guy suddenly forgot his own name, that is what we had here.

Calls to local PD and Highway Patrol led to immediate searches for the departed vehicles. (And at least one shutdown of an innocent truck with U-Haul in town, guided there by me with my binocs from my vantage point to the south... oooops.)

Patrol finally got them about a hundred miles west, or so.

Turns out the "C" was from his middle name, and he just kind of squiggles his entire last name down into a wiggly line. No "W" visible. But he was who he says he was. So more needless hassle of these hapless hunters.

'Course their U-Haul came back with an NCIC hit as stolen, so the last we heard, the Patrol still had their hands on these guys.

Checked a moose on Saturday. No, it didn't come out of the south country. Friends coming home from the west saw me on station from the Interstate, so brought it the two extra miles so I could check it.

They tell me the aspen were just beautiful. But the rain and wind this weekend brought most the leaves down. All I got to see this year, as in most, was the little yellow leaves that fell off hunters' vehicles at the station.

A little after noon we got a report of someone seeing a mountain lion.

In town.

The report was about an hour old, but the cat reportedly accosted a man after crossing under the railroad through a pedestrian tunnel.

But there were no other reports. A lion in the middle of town in the middle of the day, you would expect somebody to see something.

A deputy was on scene within minutes of the report. No lion. And was familiar with the reporting party. And the RP's habit of walking home from the bar north of the tracks to his home on the south.

He was a little sceptical of the report.

Got a bunch (as in five, or so) of deer coming through still in velvet. The velvet is dead and bleached blonde, but the bucks never bothered to rub it off. Some suspect drought, others the EHD we've had recently.

The tumbleweeds that have been growing along the highway are breaking loose, now. Blowing and rolling across the asphalt to pile up on the fence. We truly looked like the wild west this weekend.

More and more folks are driving while talking on cell phones. Had at least three vehicles pull in this weekend where the driver was busy, chatting away.

Not sure if they're letting their friends know the station is up, or what.

One was obviously talking to girlfriend or wife, explaining that he was being delayed at the check station.

"Tell her I'm hauling your ass to jail," I shouted from across the vehicle.

She heard me. He spent the next two minutes hurriedly explaining to her that I was joking, that he hadn't done anything wrong.

Don't think she believed him until he got home. Maybe not even then.

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