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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Owl Season


It's never too early to get ready for hunting season. This year should provide many new bang-up opportunities for hunters to enjoy the bounty of the great outdoors. I'm not talking about deer hunting. Our deer populations are still depressed by the devastating hair loss syndrome which the authorities are at a loss to explain. You might as well forget about elk hunting while we are on the subject. Even now the pathetic remains of our once great herds are being shot up by poachers leaving calves with no mothers and frantic nursing mothers out searching for their calves. The legal hunt for these animals starts in September and runs through December. Combine the long hunting seasons, poachers and the burgeoning populations of bears and cougars and who could blame the elk and deer for moving into town. The woods are simply too dangerous for animals anymore.

As hunters we are indeed fortunate that a hard-working group of federal biologists have stepped up to the plate to provide us with an awesome alternative to big-game hunting, shooting barred owls. In a 505-page environmental impact statement The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service described this new hunting opportunity as “limited experimental removal using lethal means.”

The bios' have proposed shooting over 3,600 of these magnificent trophy birds in an effort to save the endangered northern spotted owl. 

The barred owls are thought to originate in Canada, which would make them illegal aliens. For years we were assured that the Canadian owls only ate mice and flying squirrels that American spotted owls no longer wanted. We were supposed to believe the barred owl would only live in nests too dilapidated for an American owl to consider. Then we heard horror stories of breeding pairs of spotted owls being overwhelmed by barred owls in a manner too shocking for a family newspaper.

Are we going to wait until the mystical “hoot” of American owls in our Nations' wild places is replaced by the  “eh” of the Canadian owls before we decide to do something about this new threat to our endangered species. I think not. Maybe you remember the last time a critter threatened our spotted owls. It was a timber beast called the hickory-shirted logger. The biologists chose not to shoot the loggers because if you do and the logger finds out about it they can become agitated. Instead the loggers were trans-located to Alaska.

It's just too bad there’s no room in Alaska for 3,600 barred owls so we have no choice but to shoot them. People have asked me how you could shoot such a beautiful, trusting creature that just sits on a limb and stares at you with those big round eyes. It's easy, you don't have to lead them so far. Even in the air the barred owl is a slow flier so it should be no problem to get your limit. Of course once you have bagged your trophy it's time to see how the barred owl stacks up as table fare. Rumor has it that the barred owl tastes a lot like the marbled murrelet only less greasy.

Right now I am scrambling to come up with an owl recipe book that will include, Stuffed Owl with maple syrup infused back-bacon to honor their Canadian heritage and Pressed Owl in case you run one over with your truck. It will include a chapter on how to pluck an owl. Those who do not want to be an owl plucker may prefer to skin them. There is more than one way.


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