Archive for December, 2007
Recently my friend Jim, my yellow lab Santo and I had one of our better days pheasant hunting in Nebraska in years.
We drove out, with a light snow falling but a forecast of a cold but sunny weekend, perfect conditions for a good hunt. We woke up to a cold Saturday morning, but with fresh snow covering the fields as well as all the back roads we’d be driving to hunting spots.
Cold weather and a good snow huddles up the pheasants, and with all of Nebraska’s corn crop finally in, we expected a pretty good day.
We drove carefully all day, staying in 4-wheel drive and usually making our own tracks on gravel roads where even the local farmers had not yet ventured. We navigated around a few big hills that looked like a good way to get stuck, and in a full day of hunting, we saw a total of one other group of hunters, who probably were scouting for the black-powder deer season.
What’s happened to the bird hunters? We hunted just east of McCook, a town that years ago attracted pheasant hunters in droves. But these days, just about any time past opening weekend and you’ve got nearly everywhere to yourself.
A few reasons seem obvious. First, younger people just aren’t hunting much anymore. The only hunters I know these days are us gray-beards, still longing for those crisp mornings and the thrill of watching your dog flush a rooster for an easy shot.
Access, yes, is more difficult. A lot more land is privately leased, so you’ve got to work to get permission to hunt. We’ve been lucky the past few years, paying some Nebraska land owners a small daily fee to hunt several of their properties. We’d knock on doors if we had to, but this arrangement has been easier.
Training a good bird dog is a lot of work, too, not something most of your city dwellers really seem to give a big hoot about. My lab is now almost eight, and it’s only in the past two seasons that he’s settled down into a mature bird dog. Unlike nearly every hunter I know, I refused to use any kind of electronic shock to train him. When he was younger, and ran too far out ahead, he just got a stern shout and maybe a slap on his haunts. I understand the idea of shock collars, which trainers will tell you really don’t hurt the animal. But if someone was buzzing my neck every time I missed a shot, I wouldn’t love the sport very much would I?
Upland bird hunting is a lot of walking — and while I can seldom drag myself into a gym, taking good long walks with my lab and then hunting slowly, preferably in a small group of just two to three other hunters, is exercise I enjoy. I carry a small digital camera, pausing now and then for photos of old windmills, deserted barns and, of course, the desired retrieve of your dog running back with a bird in his mouth.
Once home, a grilled pheasant breast — or maybe a bird stuffed with oranges and wrapped in bacon, then baked slowly to keep it juicey — is a treat few people except us hunters get to savor.
I haven’t had any time the past few years for waterfowl hunting for ducks and geese, but sitting in cold blinds has lost its appeal a bit. Maybe next year.
Give me the wide open spaces of Nebraska or Kansas, the good company of a few friends, the excitement of an unexpected flush of quail in a wooded area and the pride when your lab finds the downed bird buried deep in some heavy cover no man could ever reach into.
Walking into the hunting department of a Cabella’s or other sports store, and you’d think hunting is a crowded sport. But head out in late December or early January, and you’ll count the number of trucks you see with dog carriers on one hand.
Fewer hunters actually isn’t a bad thing — it just means a few more pheasants for me and my lab.
A strip club on Boulder’s downtown Pearl Street Mall? Pasties rather than another coffee shop and pastries?
Boulder’s Camera broke the story today on page one, reporting that the Nitro Club, an all-nude club, had snuck into an alley location behind Old Chicago, almost completely unnoticed to city officials because it’s not serving booze and didn’t have to file for a liquor license.
Turns out, Boulder apparently doesn’t have many rules on the books regarding strip clubs or other "adult" entertainment, and this new club, although out of sight for most downtown visitors, is sure to brew up a storm of controversy. Nothing like a good debate on morals vs. freedom of speech — always a touchy or maybe "no touchy" subject.
The club owner was quoted as saying he charges a $10 cover and customers also have to purchase two non-alcoholic drinks, so it’s not going to be a cheap date at the Nitro. And here’s a real deal. You also can pay $495 for an annual pass and only $45 a month to have your very own private viewing area where you also can bring in your own booze to drink.
Somehow the club is also able to stay open until 4 a.m., no doubt giving CU students one more stop when most places have their last calls just before 2 in the morning.
This will be one of those fun Boulder stories to follow, and just in time for Christmas!
A new Web site, VisitingBoulder.com, has joined the crowded competition of online sites offering info on local restaurants, bars, hotels and things to see and do.
The site, published by Quiet Mind Publishing, is designed to give visitors an “inside look” at the city, according to PR. Overall, the site is attractive, easy to use and I like its use of photos for many of the destinations it writes about. But so far, it doesn’t seem to do much more than offer up short summaries of the Boulder sites, and as far as I can tell, offers very little interactivity with users, offering no opportunity for reviews or ratings by people who visit.
The site has four sections: “Eat and Drink,” “Play,” Explore” and “Sleep.” Dan Joseph, managing editor for the site, said there are no fees to be included on the site, which clearly is just getting started since many restaurants and bars are yet to be included.
My own Google search for “Boulder restaurants” brings up GetBoulder.com as the highest ranked restaurant guide, followed by bouldercoloradousa.com, which is run the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau, and is a very thorough site. It also lacks interactivity with users.
Since we all know how important Google search rankings are, Visiting Boulder has a way to go to climb higher on search engines.
Personally, I much prefer visitor sites, especially for choosing restaurants and for hotel options when traveling, that allow users to post reviews and even photos of their trips. Citysearch for Boulder is a a very interactive site, and lets users describe their “favorite restaurant, the hottest club and the hippest hotel.” Citysearch also includes a 5-star rating system. Q’s Restaurant in the Hotel Boulderado, for example, has seven reviews and other great features like “what users are saying” and “insider tips.”
Let’s face it — when it comes to restaurant reviews both on the Web and in local media, it’s a dog eat dog world out there, and competition is about as intense as it gets. VisitingBoulder.com, despite a nice design, has a long way to go in creating interactivity with users, which is pretty much the name of the game on the Web today.