One of our spring traditions is to hunt sage rats (also known as Belding’s ground squirrels) in the alfalfa and orchard grass fields near places like Enterprise, Summer Lake, Bonanza, and Crane.
For the past few years we’ve been camping near Crane with Diamond A Guides owned by Justin and Nikki Aamodt. The goal is to enjoy the spring weather and good shots while helping keep the sage rat populations from wiping out crops.
Our efforts help farmers and ranchers to obtain a certified organic seal on their products. Without shooters with precision optics and fast, small balls, the farmers would have to poison the destructive vermin that we call the wise rat.
Paul Donheffner, a member of the Oregon federal board of the Oregon Hunters Association, was with me.
With the steens in the windshield pointing south and east on Highway 78, we spotted a bull in a rancher’s field who had died of natural causes. It was on its side with two legs in the air at a 45-degree angle. Bloated. Room temperature. Eighty-seven degrees.
“That’s the only meat that can be legally harvested in Oregon if IP-13 becomes law,” Donheffner said. Death from natural causes.
Initiative Petition 13, if you haven’t heard about it by now, is a thinly disguised stab in the heart for Oregon families ingrained in cruelty prevention.
We had a few extra minutes and stopped at Burns Pond, just a few miles east of Burns, and caught half a dozen rainbows on our spinning rods. We wouldn’t have been able to do that either if IP-13 had been the law of the country.
After a great dinner, a good night’s sleep and the best breakfast yet of 2021, we went out under the blue skies to do our part to keep it organic.
When alfalfa and orchards are grown under an organic label, the land is fertilized with the passive by-products of cattle breeding. In a split-plot experiment, the effects of milk fertilizer were compared with chemical fertilizers. The aim was to determine the soil quality properties and carbon sequestration in alfalfa and orchard grass forage systems.
Five years later, soil core samples were randomly taken and examined for biological, chemical and physical properties. The results showed that long-term use of milk fertilizer increased total organic microbial biomass, potentially mineralizable, extractable and labile carbon pools and improved soil aggregate stability through the associated reduction in specific maintenance respiration rates and subsequently improved soil quality.
Organic alfalfa also seems to grow differently. I can’t tell you whether organic has more protein per bite. But yes, we are part of the solution.
Jon and Gretchen Blocker shot their bolt action rifle .22 rimfire magnums exceptionally well.
Next to me, my friend Kirt, who was shooting a 30-caliber suppressor at a bolt-action .223, sounded like he was using a Daisy Red Ryder BB pistol. It felt so civilized to me (with a suppressor) which Kirt probably never accused of before. Incidentally, its silencer is a 30-caliber can that is overcompensated for the .223. Good call.
For most of the day, I shot my .17 HMR and then turned to a Ruger 10/22 when I had blown 200 rounds of 17. The CVA Optima V2 50-caliber muzzle loader with Hawke optics looked quite a bit too, and so did the .204 Ruger and one of my favorite rifles – a Marlin lever action model 39A (ca.1946) with a vintage telescopic sight. I used 445 rounds in total which probably saved a pickup load of alfalfa for the market. You’re welcome.
The initiative petition has cleared its first hurdle with 1,000 signatures. And now it’s moved on through the comment period. The ballot was first listed as the Abuse, Neglect, and Assault Exemption Modification and Improvement Act. Nowhere in that ambiguous title did it say that the initiative would ban fishing, hunting, trapping, and farming, but that is exactly what it would do.
Following comments received by the Foreign Minister, the title of the ballot was changed to “Criminalizes the harming / killing of animals, including killing for food, hunting, fishing; criminalizes most breeding practices. Exceptions. “
On the way home, I imagined a post-IP-13 world. Don’t go to Burns. Don’t buy gas in Hines. Do not buy coffee at the coffee stand. Do not pick up an air filter at the NAPA store. Not seeing the black Angus in Hampton. Don’t buy a burger from Brothers. Do not drive past irrigated fields. Don’t wave at the farmers with their tractors because their tractors are idle and their families are dependent on welfare.
Two fronts have been organized to educate the public about the impact of IP-13. The Oregon Hunters Association leads the sports group, while the Oregon Farm Bureau leads the larger coalition. No fishing. No hunting. No livestock. No dairies. No petting zoos. No chickens in your coop. No chicken on your table.
Gary Lewis is the author of Bob Nosler Born Ballistic and Fishing Central Oregon and other titles. To contact Gary, visit www.garylewisoutdoors.com