Friday, October 23, 2009

Hunting [in Japan and America]

Today I am leaving for America to go elk and pheasant hunting with my dad and three uncles. I will fly straight to Albuquerque where an uncle will pick me up and we'll go straight to camp up in the mountains somewhere. My dad has a special tag for New Mexico, so this will be a new experience for us. After that hunt we will trek up to Colorado (same place as last year) for a week, then back to Montana again for some pheasant hunting. I'll wrap up my three-week trip with a couple days at home in Anacortes with my mom. Internet will be spotty so blog posting will be thin, but I'll leave you with a Zamami hunting story from a few months back:

[Warning: there is blood and death in the pictures below]

I didn't post this story when it happened because while I had permission to hunt goats on Zamami, I didn't want to draw attention to the fact that I was actually successful at it. I don't think anybody who said it would be okay actually thought I would (A) do it or (B) kill something.

The goats on Zamami live in a couple places far from the village. I think they must have been released many years back and have since grown themselves into respectable split-populations. There are maybe 30-40 of them.

I brought a bow and arrows back from America last fall with this exact purpose in mind. I spent much of the winter practicing on foam I found on the beach until I felt pretty comfortable out to 20 yards. The goats I am hunting aren't accustomed to looking out for predators, so they make decisions I consider somewhat irresponsible (like walking around blind corners quickly). With this in mind, I figured 20 yards was a safe distance to count on.

My friend, Vaughn, was out for the weekend so we went together to the beach I had been scouting. I knew there was a nanny and a couple kids hanging out there and I was hoping to pick off one of the kids. I wanted to leave the nanny for future breeding.

We showed up anticipating we might just practice with the bow, but we immediately saw the goats down the beach so I took a couple practice shots before we took off in pursuit. The goats were heading towards a dead-end so I planned on cornering them. It worked pretty well, as they were up on a hillside that was bordered by water and a 10m-wide chute. The goat I was after would have to come through the chute if it came down before dark. Which it did. I was all set up and Vaughn was off to the right watching. I shot at about 15 yards and went high over the back. The goat jumped back while I nocked my second arrow. She attempted the same path and I shot a second time, once again going over her back (I don't know what my problem was except I will say that the heart/lungs of a one-year-old goat are an awfully small target). This time she knew something was wrong so she ran back down the chute. Vaughn was able to retrieve my arrows and get them back to me without her seeing, but she was pretty wary so eventually I just showed myself and decided to see what we could do, me versus her in the chute. I pushed her down to the water, but she was darting every which way and not offering a shot for my last arrow (the other was bent from hitting a rock). I ducked under a rock and waited for her to return, which she did. But she came right up on top of me - maybe 1-2 meters away. The bow wasn't drawn back and I had no hope of doing it at such a close range, so it was good when she pinned me and ran back towards the water. But she was getting ever more desperate in her confined space (water, two rock walls, and me) so eventually she just made a run for it and tried to run past me. She would have been successful if I didn't shoot an arrow through her neck as she ran past.

I didn't think I hit her, but on her next step I saw blood spray out of her neck. She went another 10m and collapsed. I actually yelled to Vaughn "it's over" while she was still running. He came around the corner to witness the final death throes, then we went back to get my knife and bag. I hurriedly skinned her, took the 4 quarters and backstraps off, then we booked it home in the dark.

There wasn't much meat and I have vowed that my next goat will be at least two-years-old, which also makes it easier to determine gender (I'd prefer to take a male). The meat was pretty good. Half of it I made into jerky in my solar oven. I gave one quarter to Vaughn and cooked the remaining quarter into various meat dishes. It was slightly tough, but not too bad. Not too gamey, either.

One of my recently developed goals is to source nearly all of my meat from Zamami. I made this a goal after I realized I was already doing it. I have access to a big, walk-in freezer that I can use to store fish year-round (and I'm still working on the fish I caught last spring). Now I know I have access to the occasional goat when I get tired of fish (which is usually the case). If only I could find a wild pig population so I could get some bacon/ham from Zamami.

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