Heard around the West

  • Sketch of a tree hugger

 

"Welcome hunters!" say the blaze-orange signs on stores in many rural Western towns. Out in the woods, the sentiment is not necessarily shared by other mammals. One bowhunter in Wyoming unexpectedly became prey himself, AP reports. A grizzly bear with two cubs nearby charged Greg Dolph, who thought to escape by climbing 15 feet into a tree. But the grizzly climbed, too, biting the bowman's foot and sending him crashing to the ground. Dolph played dead until the grizzly walked away. But the grizzly was apparently only playing at walking away - it came back and sank its teeth into the hunter's hand. Dolphwas able to escape, having gotten the "Hunters go home!" message loudly and clearly.

From Oregon, readers Lance and Jennifer Barker share an in-the-woods tidbit about Robert Lies, 25, who may have been moving into hunting mode by practicing his quick-draw technique with a .22-caliber revolver. It was so quick he shot himself in the leg, reports the Blue Mountain Eagle.

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When Steve Howke, a controller for a credit union, and Brenda Stubbs, a physical therapist, decided to get married recently, the couple ruled out a traditional church. Instead, they picked rugged Glacier National Park in Montana, at the point where they'd met. The couple were heading down the trail with a "hiking preacher" and 30 guests when hikers ran toward them, fleeing a bear. Yet no one thought of turning back, says Hungry Horse News of Columbia Falls. The wedding crowd hooted and whistled to drive off the grizzly, which made a bluff charge before standing its ground near a succulent huckleberry patch. Neither side retreated while an uncomfortable hour passed. Finally, Howke and Stubbs agreed to "give the bear the respect he deserved" and moved their wilderness wedding to Grinnell Lake.

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Besides pumping water more cheaply with their bulbous noses (HCN, 9/15/97), cows can boast of at least three more excellent qualities: They raise money for worthy causes, they may help cure AIDS, and some can adapt to water-borne cowboys.

On the charity front, "cow-chip bingo" rakes in the dough, says the Denver Post. It works this way: A football field is divided into a grid, individual squares of the grid are sold for $5 or so, and a 1,000 pound steer is let loose to wander. "Plop marks the winner." Of course, the cow has to want to plop, a condition sometimes assisted by a sweet-smelling brew of molasses mixed with hay. Since most cows can deposit 60 pounds of manure a day, outdoor bingo usually lasts no more than 20 minutes.

On the medical front, the New York Times reports that a cattle virus has been redesigned to make it attack HIV, the condition that presages AIDS. Scientists have high hopes for the bovine virus, which one compares to "laser-guided smart bombs."

As for non-traditional herding, the Idaho Falls Post Register reports that when a ranch near Blackfoot flooded this summer, starving and sick cows allowed kayakers to round them up just as if the rescuers were cowboys on horseback. That is, until the cows, being cows, quit cooperating: "They stood at the edge of the deep water, numbered pieces of plastic hanging from their ears like the price tag on Minnie Pearl's hat, and refused to budge." That's when the boaters may have remembered scenes from their local rodeo. Each time a cow moved, "the kayakers spun and whirled like cutting horses and chased the stray back to the herd." A jet boat, perhaps the watery analog to the cattle truck, then towed each cow to dry land.

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But beset-by-bad-publicity beeves lost a round in eastern Oregon. Green guru Andy Kerr researched the quintessential Western song, Home on the Range, and found not a single mention of cattle, he writes in the Wallowa County Chieftain. The land and "a number of species now in decline" rate verses, along with friendship, clean air, flowers, bright stars, freedom, love (of women and horses), birds and honor. "Environmentalists should reclaim this folk song," he advises, "sing it around the campfire and teach it to their children." Kerr even suggests a new last verse:

Oh, it will not be long 'til the livestock are gone,
And the bighorn range without fear;
When the native biotic will retake the exotic,
And the streams again will run clear."

At a golf course in Hay River, Canada, ravens have gone on the offensive, stealing 3,000 golf balls worth $2,000, reports The Hub. First targeting a driving range, the ball-loving birds began diving onto the course, interrupting games and making golfers "raven mad." Where do the birds stash all those balls? A homeowner reports: "A few years ago in Yellowknife, they found close to 500 balls on top of a building that the ravens had taken up."



Heard around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or editor@hcn.org