Monday, October 08, 2018

Kaa's Hunting-- Eli's version

My step- grandson Eli turned 7 the other day, and I am gratified that he is becoming a proper "Rudyardite" (see Kipling;s own "The Jane[Austen]ites" for clarification).

The Jungle Books are full of violence, predation, and even war ("Red Dog" ) but they give a child a chance to see that while evil and violence will always exist, goodness and justice may sometimes prevail, perhaps more than in the real world, yet never without painful loss. They are great books, ones that still teach me many things since I first encountered them at the age of four.

In his illustration, Eli has obviously relished Kipling's rough humor. The evil monkey band that kidnapped Mowgli have been tracked to their headquarters in the Cold Lairs, an ancient human ruin, at the request of Mowgli's teacher Baloo, a bear, and by his guardian Bagheera, a panther. Kaa has the snake's legendary ability to mesmerize his prey and he ordered the monkeys to march down his throat. Eli has taken this quite literally, as you can see. Outside of my clipped version he had drawn Baloo and Bagheera also stepping forward, momentarily beguiled by their friend the snake. Mowgli has put his hands on their shoulders to break the spell.

I am particularly interested in the look of the snake. Eli has been surrounded by pythons since before he was born; his parents keep snakes. But his Kaa has the look of one of the big native pit vipers of his Great Basin homeland. I suspect they have more authority.

I hope Eli continues to be a good Rudyardite, and that some day he may sit on the gun Zim Zimma, the cannon under the treasure house at the end of the Great Trunk Road in Pakistan, as Kipling's greatest character, Kim, and his real grandmother did before him.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Big Snake

A bull or "gopher" snake crosses our road at sunset to deal with the plague of mice that resulted as we shut down the big pigeon loft. Or so I hope.

Is Felis concolor the Boojum?

"He had softly and suddenly vanished away
For the snark WAS a Boojum you see..."

In Memoriam: David Robinson

I still like Gyrs

And near Gyrs and hybrids of all kinds and Sakers-- "Itilgas"-- best. Unfortunately most of my hunting pics were swallowed by the computer, so these are rather domestic,but I hope to reclaim some when I switch over.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

What Remains #2

Since my Parkinson's I have been left with a very small collection of interesting guns. It is more a scholarly or utilitarian collection than a pretentious one. A few are on lifetime loan rather than owned. Together there are enough he I can shoot anything from bad people to delicious birds before I die. There are quite enough for anyone.

From left to right in the upper part of the photo:
Czech Mauser .22 military trainer, beechwood stock, milspec sights, bolt action It is the one owned by every hunter in Central Asia that I know.

Second: Savage model 99, takedown, made in 1914 and restored by John Besse.

Three: an Ishapoor SMLE. Made in 1950 by the Indian government to correct the one fault of the SMLE, the .303 cartridge. This one is in .308, painted black, and I have a ton of ammo for it.

Four: My Best quality .410 by Turner of England.

Five: "The Cuckoo Clock", a 16 gauge gun made in Austria in 1916 with more animals on it than any menagerie, lent to me by David Zincavage. It is as fine as any English gun, but looks odd to the eyes of any non-German.

Six: a Darne 16 made in 1893. This was a project gun that John Besse and I rebuilt almost from scratch. John built a bluing tank to cold- blacken the barrels, fashioned a nickel into an initial plate, and put in a leather recoil pad and an ebony fore- end tip. I refinished the stock. The only outside work was by Doug Turnbull, for case colors.

Last in that row: a plain grade Ugartechea 12 gauge, obtained by John as a "utility English boxlock"so to speak.

Across the frame: a Mongol snaphaunce, a working gun made by a blacksmith in Bayaan Olgii in 1950.

Broomhandle Mauser with all the bells and whistles; nice western- style holster for the Smith, by Old El Paso; Hi-standard target pistol from the 1920's , which John insists is a better gun than the Colt Woodsman. John got 15 and built two "good" ones from them.

Next, Smith and Wesson .357 magnum Trooper model that belongs to Dusty Druse, who has it on loan to me but is not giving it up. I don't blame him; it is the nicest Smite, with the smoothest action I have ever kept.

Last, all steel compact 1911, much modified from a Philippine forging, with Gos scrimshaw, cocked and locked as always, "to shoot bad people.."

Nate Fitch did profiles of the .410 and the snaphaunce for Guns International magazine. Nate: I've got plenty on my plate at the moment. How would you like to do profiles of several of these guns? I'd like to see the Czech .22, the Model .99, the Ishapoor SMLE; the Cuckoo clock, mainly about German style; the Darne; the Broomie; and the State Trooper.

More photos soon...


My sister Karen was astonished when she took one of the popular genetic tests; things are not the way our parents told us! Instead of the typical Boston mixture of an Italian father and an Irish mother, as we'd always been told, things turned out to be a lot more complicated. To begin with, we seem to be mostly Scottish, English, and French. Our parents utter lack of interest in the historical dsmension of our history left us ignorant of a lot of fine stories. Years of research on my part present a picture that interweaves quite well with the genetic references,...

To start with, the matter of the traditional Irish . I used to horrify my late mother by saying quite truthfully that any ancestors of ours who were in Ireland were there to oppress the Irish. The McCabes were not Irish! They were Scots Gallowglasses -- mercenary soldiers, poor but armigerous, who came to Ireland when the English kings were still Catholic, circa 1400. They worked for the English king with others of their ilk until the late 1700's when, like many other English Protestant soldiers and officials, they joined the United Irish and rose against the king. The rebellion failed, of course (Stephen Matutrin in Patrick O'Brian's novel cycle suspects The UI of mixed motives, but Patrick "O'Brian" Russ had no more Irish blood than any of these people! Perhaps he distrusted their Napoleonic ammbitions.They fled to Paris. They then went to the Maritimes, like their associates and relatives the Loveleses, Lawlesses and the Duanes. They became prosperous.

I lose the trail here. I don't know anything about them until Frank McCabe, whose mother was a Loveless, married Clothilde Fandel in the early part of the 20th century. Somehow the McCabes had became Catholic again-- I don't know how that happened. Frank was an educated and somewhat mysterious man, with a taste for Wagnerian opera and tripe in the mode Caen, who was an expert in porcelain and Chinese art for the Port of Boston.

Our coat of arms is a hoot, by the way. It consists of three apparently dead salmon. surrounded by the motto "Vincit autque mouri" which is "Conquer or Die" in very bad Latin.

Bodios are simpler. Our particular line has been coming since the 1870's to work in the stone quarries around Boston. They come from the extreme north of Italy, from Lake Maggiore. There's a village at the northern terminus of the tunnel through the Alps that opens in an alpine town called Bodio, in Canton Ticino.

I've always been fascinated by their language, which is nothing like what they call "Roman Italian" (they call it our 'patois').

I was raised in a Francophone school. My folks dialect somewhat resembled medieval French, like Villon's, with its "ing' and "ung" endings- wine is inevitably "ving", bread "pung"rather than pain or panno. And then there's the damn trotting rhyme. All our babies were bounced on the knees as the old folks sang: "Trot, trot, cavalotte/Sous des pierres, joue des mottes/ Boun "Boom!"] pung, boun ving/ something, something covaling" Damn weird French, but no kind of Italian at all!

And then I went to the Vaucluse, in northern Provence, 200 or so miles west of my grandparents country, where the old men not only looked like my father and grandfather, but sounded exactly like them. 'Ving' and 'pung' were everywhere. Both cultures trap and eat songbirds, and play a similar clay court bowling game, called 'boules' in French and 'bocce' in Italian. The dialects of southern France, southern Switzerland and northwestern Italy have had many names,like the 23 (?) varieties of Ladin, or old Provencal -- to my ear they were as similar as Navajo and Apache, or Kazakh and Kyrgiz-- less separate languages than romantic fantasies of independent homelands.

There's one more complication in my particular line: the Jengiz gene. The Jengiz gene, which is common in Asian males and very rare in European, got to the Piedmont with the Avars, a bunch of "Huns"-- Turkics-- who rode with Attila. It's not just a legend; I've got it!

The Bavarians. The Fandels are descended from a man named Fanelli, who popped up there in the early 1600's. I always assumed that he was a Jewish converso, but it turns out I have no detectable genes for that, or any other "Levantine" forbears. What we do have is north Iberian, Santiago land. So Fanelli was likely to be a Spaniard. There was lot of moving around in the southern Catholic alliances against the Turks, which culminated in the Battle of Lepanto -- "Don Juan of Austria" and all that -- it seems likely. We got a good poem out of it. ,

There are also some Scandinavians -- no surprise. All Scots have Scandinavian blood, from coastal raiders and rapers. No, the one I want to know about is the FINN!

Joe salling
Pierre, Fabre's heir, at dinner

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Bitter Man with a bad Atttude

I have done virtually all my hunting on my rancher friend Lee Henderson's land for years. He one of the funniest people i know, if you appreciate dark and cynical humor. A supervisor at one of his very rare off- ranch jobs once called him "a bitter man with a bad attitude." We were both delighted, and I urged him to start a blog of that name. Since then, he has acquired a Facebook Page which fills the niche.


I could no† ge† the video I wanted in but here is a taste.

Monday, September 24, 2018


Nice Darwin Finch tat:

Not as nice as Lauren's though

Silly Bird

The Aplo Tri- bryd is still ridiculous and still brainless but he is TRYING, and not squawking so much. Working him high, VERY high, is the key. Fire chief Mike Bisbee (who is married to my distant cousin Nina McCabe, and hails from NY) took these good pics the other day.

The Blog

Many people think I have lost interest in the blog, or that I am too sick to keep it up, or that there is no longer anything to say.


The fact is that my blog host has become increasingly hard to use, comments are no longer enabled, and most of the archives are inaccessible.

So, soon, with the help of my editor, friend, publisher (of my forthcoming novel Tiger Country ) Karen Myers, I am moving to a new blog, with EVERYTHING included.It will probably be called "Notes from Tiger Country"-- which is, of course, Querencia Country.

Please be patient-it will take some time, and there will be plenty of notice...

And why TC? Perhaps this will help...

You ever meet my karate instructor? He doesn’t talk much. He’s a big
Korean, probably about sixty-five, and still moves like a cat. His body
looks like it was built with an axe out of hardwood, and his face is like a
granite boulder. He has about as much hair as a bowling ball. We were
driving from Silver City to a ranch in northern Catron County that day
and stopped at the Aldo Leopold Overlook to stretch our legs and see
the country. We went back to the truck for the binoculars and spent a
long time looking over the land, glassing it carefully. Finally he said to
me “You got tigers up there?”
“No, Sir”, I said. “Lots of deer and more elk, and we got more
antelope than anyplace but Wyoming. Little bears that go up trees, and
we used to have big bears that won’t. We have a thing they call a lion,
but it isn’t really, and a rare thing called a jaguar–it’s more like a leopard.
We used to have big wolves. What we don’t have is a tiger–never had
and never will.”
He spat at the ground, looked me in the eye like I was a little slow ,
and growled, “Looks like tiger country to me.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


Why I need th is brønze baby falcon by Peregrine O'Gormley at the Peters:

Spiked collars

{Intro from Cat: Last week, a wolf tried to get into a flock of yearling sheep on the mountain, and ended up in a brawl with six guardian dogs. Although the wolf was injured, it escaped without succeeding in killing any sheep. If it lives, I'm hoping it learned a valuable lesson. A couple of the dogs were injured but are fine.
Another flock moved several miles downriver from our house, getting out onto the desert and further away from the Wind River Mountains here in western Wyoming. This is the flock we've had here all summer, with no depredation even though the wolves kept checking in on them and testing the dogs. We assumed things would be safer for that flock, but apparently at least one wolf decided to follow their movement downriver.

Bear-Bear, the biggest and toughest livestock guardian dog I've ever known (a Central Asian Ovcharka/Akbash cross), was badly injured. Since then, I’ve been getting lots of comments that we need to put spiked collars on our dogs. It’s an easy suggestion, but a lot harder to implement on a naïve dog population that most people realize. If you’ve got a stable dog pack on a set acreage it’s easier, but when you are managing a dog population involving four groups of dogs in a fluid system across large expanses of landscape, it’s much more complicated.}

A spiked collar is a tool, an added defense for a livestock guardian dog. But just like any tool, there are appropriate times and places for their use, and some dogs are more suited to using them than others. Placing spiked collars in a dog pack is something that has to be closely supervised.

We have spiked collars, and have used them in the past with a group of mature dogs with one dominant male leading the bunch (Rant). But we are not currently using spiked collars, for numerous reasons. There are four groups of dogs out with different sheep flocks, and the members of each group change on a fairly regular basis at this time of year (for a variety of reasons) when the sheep are on the move. That means that pack dynamics change as well.

In addition, since we’ve brought in our first outside dogs in about 10 years, we’ve bumped up pup production to get these dogs into the working gene pool. So we’ve got all age groups present, from pups just a few months old that are interacting with yearling dogs, dogs with a few years experience, dogs in their prime, and older dogs.

Adding sharp objects to dog collars in this scenario would lay the groundwork for a disaster. Dogs may get their teeth knocked out from inter-pack brawls involving spiked collars. Dogs are smart and know to use the spikes as a weapon. That is great when dealing with wolves, not so great when you’re hormonal and mad at another dog for stealing a bone or growling at your offspring.

In their countries of origin, there are some areas where the collars are often used; in other areas, not so much; and in some areas, not at all. Even where they are used, rarely are all members of a pack collared – only those lead or more aggressive dogs most likely to be first on the scene to challenge a wolf wear spiked collars. In some areas we visited in Turkey, the dogs only wear the collars in certain grazing areas, and by law the collars must be removed before the flocks return to the village.

Juvenile dogs that are still growing and wrestling and figuring out their place in the pack generally shouldn’t wear spiked collars, and we don’t have any collars that small anyway (as in nothing that would fit Boo, who survived a wolf attack in May).

Last week, four dogs from the river flock went on a walkabout and visited a neighboring ranch that does not use dogs of any kind. The presence of four large dogs was startling enough, but we’ve got dogs from Tajikistan with cropped ears – and for some reason, that seems to scare the hell out of people. Fortunately, these kind people got word to us so we could quickly rid them of their unwelcome visitors.

Perhaps when we’ve got a more consistent dog population (which is during the winter when we’ll be feeding hay to the sheep and the flocks are further apart) we can put collars on some of our dominant dogs. We would have more time to supervise the process at that point. But until then, it’s not a good option.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Great News!

Two days ago, Lauren defended her thesis and is now DOCTOR Lauren McGough.
Now some well deserved rest, with eagle...
Here she is on her first trip, st seventen (sixteen?) with the late Aralbai...

All our love and congratulations!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Alive and Kicking

Contrary to rumors, I'm doing pretty well. I've had some trouble with the drugs but I'm still advancing to a second operation.

Meanwhile, I have three books ready to go in quick succession. The first is my "legendary"-- I know, I know, but it has been nearly finished and read by friends in "Samizdat" for years- novel Tiger Country;.

The second is a much expanded "Book of Books", called With Trees; can you guess its name's origin?

Third is a new look at what made the Passenger pigeon a unique species. As Robert Bakker said about dinosaurs, it is more interesting to know what they were like when they were alive than what killed them. We know what killed the Passenger pigeon. What made it the weirdest vertebrate species on earth? I have some ideas in A Feathered Tempest.

And the novel? Here's what Malcolm Brooks says about it: "Steve Bodio brings his legendary Renaissance vision to this startling first novel, a work so mammoth in scope and elegant in execution it makes me wish he’d been writing fiction all along. Recalling the edgy best of Ed Abbey and Jim Harrison, and reminiscent of James Carlos Blake’s contemporary border noir, Tiger Country throws modern heroic renegades into the gravitational pull of the ancient past, to encounter the origins of the human condition. Though it makes admirable use of the techniques of the modern thriller, this book nonetheless has its roots in the classical literary tradition, populated by fascinating, unpredictable characters asking dangerous questions about the world we inhabit. Gripping, and utterly one-of-a-kind."

Plus the cover photograph by Jackson Frishman of Ladron Peak, the legendary Theives' Mountain that also dominates the opening scenes of Edward Abbey's novel The Brave Cowboy, the first great modern "western"

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Coming Attractions...

Thus and more...

Perfect Day?

“The most appealing daily schedule I know is that of a turn-of-the-century Danish aristocrat. He got up at four and set out on foot to hunt black grouse, woodcock, and snipe. At eleven he met his friends, who had also been out hunting alone all morning. They converged ‘at one of these babbling brooks,’ he wrote. He outlined the rest of his schedule. ‘Take a quick dip, relax with a schnapps and a sandwich, stretch out, have a smoke, take a nap or just rest, and then just sit around and chat until three. Then I hunt some more until sundown, bathe again, put on white tie and tails just to keep up appearances, eat a huge dinner, smoke a cigar and sleep like a log until the sun comes up again to redden the eastern sky. This is living…. Could it be more perfect?’” — Annie Dillard
(Thanks to Tim G. The unnamed aristo was Karen Blixen's father))

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Ain't Dead Yet 2

!! Have been busy, broke, aNd sufferjng everything from wrong meds to (found, never fear; guess WHO? )lost dogs, to Libby's becoming, I hope extremely temporarily , a non walking casualty; finally, idiotically, attempting TWO hawks. Nobody could say my life has been boring...

More regular blogging will resume soon. Meanwhile a few images and such...

Creaky old New Nexicans.
Hauksbee getting a wet- down on a hot day
Outside with the irrepressible Bo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Peter Noone RIP

After a long battle, Peter Noone has finally come to rest...

I can only guess how reluctantly. He spent his a whole life in outdoor retail, starting at Berkeley's pioneering Ski Hut under the legendary catalogue pioneer George Rudolph (I believe they were the first outfitter to have a mail order catologue) ; then joined his buddy Yvon Chouinard at Patagonia, where he remained for over 4o years. I only hope Patagonia will survive him. His good taste (his favorite city was Paris) and his incorrigible political INcorrectitude served a company occasionally hampered by taking itself entirely too seriously.

Not Peter. A sophisticated urbanite with an occasional foul mouth and, for years, a heavy cigarette habit, he did not fit the image of an outdoor clothing executive. What he did have was an abiding fascination with matching the hatch with tiny flies in sophisticated streams like those in Yellowstone. I recall one day hearing he and Yvon making fun of themselves for being obsessed with "tiny fairy hatch matching", but they were good at it, something I haven't had the discipline or time to do.

He could also be a very innovative hatchet man, doing jobs that no one else could figure out how to do. When the insane cult CUT (Church Universal and Triumphant) came to the Yellowstone Valley, they located there because they were afraid the world was about to end in vulcanism and atomic war. (That they were then located between the largest missile field and the largest supervolcano in the world did apparently not trouble their consequence free minds).At that time, Patagonia replaced or refunded any return without question. A peculiar problem soon arose. CUT members bought over $10,000 worth of clothes in a particular faded cranberry color that caught the imagination of members as the right color for their death shrouds. When they didn't die, they intelligently if dishonestly wanted to return it and get their money back. My feeling, as most sane people's, was too bad; the color didn't save them - stupidity did.

Enter Peter with a solution both Solomonic and satisfying. You can have your money back, but only if you never do business with Patagonia again. Patagonia had to block the zip codes in the upper Yellowstone Valley for a few years. But it worked.

I wonder what Peter would have thought of the fellow who burned his jacket to stay warm while climbing the Grand Teton and wanted it replaced? As I used to say when I was a kid "I'd give a nickel to hear that!"

Good show, Peter -- I hope there is good wine and lots of fishing on the other side...

Peter and Malinda Chouinard several years back

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Those Who Abide

Sometimes this journal seems to be a chronicle of death and dissolution. This may be natural for 68 year old man with Parkinson's ticking away in his breast, even if his prospects are better than some people's. But whatever mortality lies beneath, Querencia is supposed to be a celebration, even when it does obituaries.

This time I'd like to celebrate some friends who are still alive and have overcome many things to be where they are. This can be said of many readers and characters in Querencia. To name a few: Dutch and Margory, Cat and Teddy, Jonathan, Cass, Chas, Brad, Reid and Reed, Petro and Annyushka and Vadim. The list goes on...

Here I'd like to celebrate a special few. I just got the latest photo of Tim Gallagher hawking with John Loft in England, happy survivors if ever there were any, last week. Tim briefly found the Ivorybill a number of years ago (I believe he hit on the idea on a visit here, where we contemplated how cool it would be to see one, and he went the next year.) He has since written several other good books, including one on Emperor Frederick and on his (Tim's) youthful time spent in prison, and a harrowing trip to Mexico where he attempted to find the Imperial woodpecker, perhaps the first intentional victim of Biocide. When J. P. S. Brown, the legendary 89 year old border cattleman and novelist, and probably the hardest man I know, heard that this white boy (he was born in England, grew up in LA, and looks like he was separated at birth from Jimmie Paige) was going to go to country he had sold out of because it was too dangerous (and Joe is alleged to eat wolves for breakfast, and to be the cowboy in Tom Russell's song who, after killing Apaches for their bounty, rode into Durango to ride up the whorehouse stairs) said to me "They'll kill him and eat him, for breakfast maybe even raw!"

But he made it out. His first post- mountain Email, sent from Durango after a day of sleep and R & R, began: "...The houses that were still standing when we went in were burning when we left. The good narcotraficante with the AK47, who we hired to guard us, refused to ride with us on the way out, out of pure fear. It was a long five hour drive through the mud to get off the mountain, trying not to look in the eyes of the drivers of the cars coming the other way."

During these years he and his wife Rachel Dickinson, an original writer herself and author of a curiously melancholy book on falconry herself,
suffered the loss of their son to suicide. They don't complain about it. They talk about it just enough, or maybe not enough. They feel it.

John Loft: what can I say? Schoolmaster and classical poet, he already had 50 years of falconry when he published A Merlin for Me. It contains illustrations by writers who became well known, history, biology, rhyming poetry, including a dedication which contains the line "And especially to Steve for the last approving tic." He also draws on his admiration for the great falconer E. B. Michell,(which in my opinion he surpasses in his own great book); The Art and Practice of Hawking was Michell's masterwork and curiously the first "real" falconry book I read (T. H. White, eminently literary, doesn't count in the same fanatic way). But my first copy was a modern reprint, not the Edwardian relic he presented me with -- a magnificent present from John, the Merlin man, real mentor to such as Helen Macdonald, and a spiritual mentor to me. He has never written an ungraceful line.

John is old enough to have known all the greats and good enough to keep most of his stories kind. He took in two shaggy American ragamuffins he knew only from correspondence, orphans of the storm who blew into Lincolnshire on the train with the spring rains. He treated them as friends, made them friends with his good wife Nancy (she didn't even know they were coming!!), and took them to the pub where they feasted on local delicacies and discussed the differences between American and British falconry. He took them to visit some Yorkshiremen, "Geordies" whose accents were so thick that Libby didn't even realize they were speaking English. John laughed aloud when I told him about my recent vivid first meeting with Jemima "Mima" Parry-Jones, to whom I was introduced by the rather serious artist and zoologist serious Jonathan Kingdon. When she took my hand she said "I know who you are! You're the fucking American CUNT who wrote that the British have nothing to teach us but history" John grinned and said "If you think she's bad, you should have heard her father!"(the legendary austringer and falconer Philip Glasier, friend and hunting companion of Prince Philip). Mima has become a friend, and the whole episode confirms my theory that the foulest mouths are owned by aristocratic women and Italian- construction workers in New York City. That they are the last two groups to smoke unfiltered cigarettes may be relevant too...

John is still hawking, still flying Merlins. I won't say how old he is but he won't see 80 again. Tim goes out with him every time he goes to England and sends me a picture of the two of them. Here is the latest.

Wendy Parker came to see us the other day. She was one of my best students at Wildbranch, though she didn't publish enough. What she did do was hunt. She had rare German pointing dog and an eponymous gun. For a time she went with our difficult friend, Jerry, who had the best collection of American doubles a poor man could have. They are both biologists and are smart as hell.

What I didn't realize is that it had been more than 20 years since I had seen her. She looked exactly the same -- I DON'T.