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HUNTER EDUCATION

OLD MISSOURI HILLBILLY SITE
VOLUMES 215 & 216 -------- MAY/JUNE 2020
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY

May/June 2020 - Uploaded July 19, 2020

Before we start the newsletter I want ot let you know we have added a new section to our site that will have stories that Ann and I have written about some earlier experiences in our lives.  Take a look if you like.  If you missed the new link on the home page, you can go here to: Stories From The Past

Let's start with our recent summer travels.  Several trips to Walgreens and Safeway in Liberty Lake for prescriptions and groceries.  Also to Walmart in Post Falls, ID for curbside pickup of online grocery orders.  A half dozen trips through various drive through lanes for such things as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Noodle Express' for Chicken Osaka, and Pryor's for their famous 'Fish n Fries.'

Anyone else getting tired of this Covid-19 crap?  Not trying to pass judgment on any of this, but we are bombarded with so many different stories, rules, diametric changes of direction, opinions, etc.  Is it science or politics?  Who the hell knows?  I would suggest both!

Whatever it is, there is no doubt that whenever the shutdowns and restrictions began loosening, the virus spread went wild.  Apparently the good news is that hospitalizations and deaths are falling as a percentage of total diagnosed cases.  Whatever the causes and effects, Little Heifer and I are of the generation that needs to be very cautious, and we are.

Of course, the nonstop protests, marches, demonstrations, sit-ins, lie-ins, riots, and property takeovers of the past several weeks have nothing to do with the increase in Covid cases.  Because liberal politicians declare the protests to be for a righteous cause, all the yelling, chanting, crowding, and spittle distribution is to be encouraged, while those same politicians forbade gathering for religious services because that provides an unacceptable risk for spread of Covid.  Perhaps a little 'virtue signaling' going on here?????

According to PEW Research, about 6% of adults in the U. S. have participated in the recent protests and demonstrations.  According to the Census Bureau, there are about 248 million adults in the U. S.  If 6% of them protested, that's a little under 15 million, which is a hell of a lot of people!

However, it also means that over 230 million adults did NOT participate in the protests, which is a hell of a lot more people.  What does that mean?  I don't know, you figure it out.

Again, according to PEW Research, about 67% of adults either strongly support or somewhat support the protests of Black Lives Matter.  However, when surveyed about reducing or eliminating police funding, as is being demanded by BLM, there was an abrupt 'about face.'  73% said police funding should either "Remain the same (42%), be increased a little (20%), or increased a lot (11%)."

As more and more of our most liberal cities accede to the demands for "de-funding" their Police Departments, I see this country facing chaotic times ahead!  No wonder gun sales are through the roof and continuing to climb.

As the protests continue around the country with the toppling of statues, rioting, and lawlessness, the George Floyd death at the hands of Minneapolis Police, has long faded away as the driving force in my opinion.  This is now about pushing a social and political agenda that, if successful, will result in disastrous consequences for the country.

Enough Soapbox for now.

On August 3, 2016, Ann had just turned onto the County road on her way to golf league, when a large cougar ran across the road in front of her.  This was reported in my July/August 2016 newsletter.  Since then, there have been many discussions amongst the public and news media about why the number of nuisance cougars removed by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, continues to increase every year.

On May 5th the local Spokesman-Review published a guest opinion piece by Sophia Ressler, a Seattle lawyer, alleging that the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission's increase in the allotment of cougars allowed to be taken by hunters is "misguided" and if left alone cougar populations will be "self regulating."  Hmm, I wonder at what level?

The increase in human/cougar encounters and sightings over the past few years, Ressler attributes to the increase in Washington's population and encroachment into cougar habitat.  No doubt this has some validity, yet most of the state's cougars don't live in the Seattle/Puget Sound area where the greatest percentage increase in human population has occurred.  Where cougar sightings and encounters mostly occur happens to be in eastern Washington, where population growth has been very modest in recent years.

On May 14 State Representative Joel Kretz of Wauconda, WA penned a rebuttal piece that was also printed in the Spokesman-Review.  Kretz is a rancher who represents the 7th Legislative District in northeast Washington.  He points out some revealing statistics.  By the year's, the number of 'problem cougars' killed by Fish and Wildlife Officers is as follows:
  • 2015 - 26
  • 2016 - 27
  • 2017 - 32
  • 2018 - 80
  • 2019 - 105
It should be noted that a citizen's initiative eliminated hound hunting for cougars in Washington in the mid 1990's and based on sightings and removal of problem cats, the population has most likely been increasing steadily every since.  Most problem cougar removal is generated by the cats preying on pets or livestock, although occasionally they have attacked people.  In fact, a bicyclist was attacked and killed near North Bend, WA in May of 2018!

Kretz's major point is that there are too many cougars in certain areas and we are paying game wardens to do what hound hunters would gladly pay for a permit to do!

To read the complete articles by both authors:
Sofia Ressler - HERE
Joel Kretz - HERE

While the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission sets the seasons, limits, and other regulations for the taking of game animals, there is always controversy and debates from conservation groups and animal lovers.  I just call them all anti hunting groups!

Fact is, when it comes to cougar populations, no one really knows how many cougars reside in the state now!  This includes the biologists with Fish and Wildlife, but especially the hunting protesters and their organizations.  These animals are so reclusive that accurate population levels are next to impossible to determine.

Yet, we insist on arguing about how many animals can be taken by hunting and retain a sustainable population.  In the case of cougars, so called 'scientific management' is always tempered with a large dose of POLITICS!  In fact our beloved Governor Inslee, overruled a Wildlife Commission's cougar harvest goals back in 2015 under pressure from the Humane Society and other animal rights organizations.  (Yeah, this is the same Inslee that declared gun shops in WA non-essential while allowing pot shops and liquor stores to remain open!)

Okay, so I did slip in a little more soapbox, and I ain't sorry!

The above cougar information is background for my next ranch happenings.

On June 23rd Ann and I were standing near the kitchen sink looking out the window to the south.  A deer came running from west to east across the edge of the yard about 75 yards away.  The deer stopped and looked back once, then ran on to the south of the shop building and away. 

Shortly, following the same route, a cougar came loping along!  Ann says this cougar was not as big as the one she saw a few years ago, but it looked full grown to me!  I grabbed my iPhone, ran out the front door, and began snapping pictures as fast as I could hit the button.  Should have slowed down as no picture I shot shows a recognizable cougar.  Of course this all happened in a matter of seconds, so the results were not all that surprising.

Neither was it surprising that we had a cougar on the premises.  For several months now, there have been increasing reports of cougar sightings, photos, and videos in backyards all around the Newman Lake area.  Our speculation is that our cougar was a young male as they are the ones most likely to roam around hunting new territory.  The being young speculation was due to the fact that he was chasing after an already alerted deer.  Seemed to us that a more experienced cat wouldn't do that 'cause he would know he ain't gonna catch up.

Anyway, the sighting prompted me to put out some trail cameras in the brushy area from which the cougar emerged.  While we've not gotten any daylight pictures, nor flash pictures from the one camera capable of that feature, we did get infrared photos of a (the?) cat on July 2nd at 11:39 PM, July 4th at 11:49 PM, and July 6th at 5:03 AM.  I'll share a couple of the photos.






Fourth of July Cat.













A few days later.  Still not quite light enough at 5:00 AM to get a color picture.






Be interesting if Mr. or Ms. cougar is again hanging around here after September 1st.  That's opening day of the early cougar season!


Other than the cougar visits as described, other photos so far are a coyote and multiple deer.






Be easy to mistake this coyote for the cougar if not for those huge ears and fluffy tail.







Even though the deer population in our area is way higher that it should be, the babies this time of year are still cute!






Skinny Mama with two fawns.  We've noted that these fawns are quite different in size.  Is one adopted from a deceased Mother?  Be interesting to know for sure.







Our drawing for special hunting permits such as moose, elk, and extra deer was pretty much a bust this year.  In spite of Ann, Rick, and I submitting a number of entries, the only extra tag other than the deer, elk, bear, cougar over the counter tags we usually buy, was a second deer permit for me.

We are in the midst of a major remodel of the main floor of our little ranch house.  I can hear the painters scraping and rolling as I write this.  Except for the spare bedroom, which was re-done 3 or 4 years ago, all is stripped to the bare walls and getting refurbished.  The old 'popcorn' ceilings are now removed and the living room will get red fir ship-lap paneling on the ceiling.  The kitchen will get a new counter top, sink, dishwasher, microwave, stove top, and refrigerator.  If there's any money left after that, new living room furniture would be nice.  We'll see.

So, while this is going on we are sleeping in the RV, and trying to keep track of where things we use every day are hidden away out of the way.  We are told the master bedroom is priority to finish first, so we can get back into our regular bed.  Hopefully that will happen soon.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a quote Ann found on 'Of Love and Cowboys.'

"To get ahead in life, you have to learn to saddle your own horse"

Well, it's time to shut down here, so. . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!

THE OL' HILLBILLY
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