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Know the West

Heard around the West



Hunting is coming to the Internet. A Texas entrepreneur plans to offer online hunting that isn’t virtual — it will have real impact. John Underwood, an auto body estimator, wants to import exotic animals, including wild pigs, Barbary sheep and Indian blackbuck antelopes, to his 330-acre ranch. There, he’ll set up Web cams connected to the trigger of a .22 caliber rifle. All viewers have to do, says the unenthusiastic Earth Island Journal, is pay a fee, and then it’s "ready, aim, double-click."


"Sir, step away from the helicopter," was the message a California man received after he made two emergency helicopter landings near Bishop, Calif., during one of the worst snowstorms of the winter. Pilot Pascal Brandys refused to wait: He took off from Mammoth Airport in the midst of swirling snow and fog, but was forced down almost immediately onto the center divider of U.S. 395, reports the Inyo Register News. Brandys then tried to lift off as soon as the fog lifted a bit, only to get forced down again by poor visibility. This time, he landed the helicopter on a shoulder of the same highway. The police officer who ordered the pilot not to take off a third time said he almost missed seeing the aircraft because of the blowing snow. There were no injuries, said reporter Jon Klusmire, "except for the bruised ego of the pilot."


What if you had a water leak of monstrous proportions and didn’t know it? You might rip through 1.4 million gallons of water and owe the city more than $10,000. That’s what happened to homeowner Leslie Schofield in Bellevue, Wash. The leak sprang from an outside hose running to a boat dock, reports The Seattle Times. The city says it expects full payment.


It sounds effete and may even look like froufrou on the necks of hikers and boaters, but a group called Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, based in Eagle Point, Ore., insists that the best outdoors gear is a silk neckerchief. Though silk is pricey, it’s versatile; it mops up perspiration, cleans eyeglasses or camera lenses, blocks frigid air or pesky mosquitoes, can bandage a wound or sling a splint, covers the face to keep out dust, and — in a pinch — you can always blow your nose on it. Silk handkerchiefs: not just for cowboys anymore.


In its annual "Get Out of Town!" feature, the Tucson Weekly tells a bunch of people to do just that. Targets of the paper’s sarcastic advice include an "overpaid" broadcaster, a tanning joint calling itself the Bada Bing that "cooks your skin into cancer," the ersatz-Italian Olive Garden chain, and homeowners who share a tendency to install outdoor lights so bright they make everything look like a Hollywood set. Tucson is hailed all over the country for its Dark Skies Ordinance, says the alternative paper, so why do people "light up their yards like the all-night parking lots of the 24-hour grocery?" Those folks should "shift on those high beams and get out of town."


Writer Ray Bradbury isn’t shy about going out on a limb in the winter issue of Green Car Journal. The author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles says, "During the next five or six or seven years, we’re going to be forced to look at the automobile and freeways because they’re not working. The traffic is going to freeze, and only when it’s frozen will people decide to change their habits." Bradbury, who notes that he has never learned to drive — he leaves that chore to his wife, because "women are better drivers than men" — predicts that 100 years from now, "the car will just disappear."


Don’t mess with the Buddha: A three-foot-tall statue of Buddha was taken from the patio of Honga’s Restaurant in Telluride a year ago, but now it’s back, having brought nothing but bad karma to the three thieves. The men confessed that once the statue was ensconced in their Denver home, things began to go wrong, such as a serious mold spreading throughout the house. "They hoped to reverse the bad karma by returning the purloined item," reports the Telluride Watch.

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the column, Heard around the West.