Friday, May 20, 2011

Tweetweek: Wild food book, noodling controversy, deadly litter and baby ducks

Missed the latest chatter on Twitter? Here's the good stuff I've been tweeting about:

Wild food book tour: Hank, aka Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, aka "Boyfriend," has launched his tour to promote his new book, Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast (release date: May 24).

What does this mean for me? Well, I'm lonely, and I've had to do my own cooking, which is borderline traumatic after being fed so well for all these years.

But who cares about that! If you're a fan of wild food and want to meet Hank and get him to sign your copy of his book, you can check out his tour page and see if he'll be in your neck of the woods anytime soon.

For my part, I'll be flying in to join him occasionally - I'll be in Austin, Texas, in early June; Portland, Ore., in late June; Seattle, Washington, in late July; New York City in late September; and pretty much all Northern California stops this summer. I really hope I get to meet some of you on those stops - internet friendships are fun and all, but there's nothing like good old-fashioned face time.

One last thing: If you'd like to see color versions of a lot of the photos that appear in black and white in Hank's book, check out my Field to Table Food Photography website.

Noodling controversy: OK, I've always thought noodling was weird and a bit creepy - it's basically wading in muddy water and trying to catch enormous catfish by hand. (Encounters like this, btw, are why I'm terrified of the ocean and any murky water - I'll take a clean, clear Sierra Nevada river any day.)

But apparently, noodling is illegal in some places, and controversial.

The arguments against noodling in this New York Times article sound convincing at first: Noodling targets male catfish who are protecting females' eggs. But one pro-noodler noted, also convincingly, that fishing for them with line and hook can have the same effect.

One of the interesting things about the debate is the heavy dose of angling classism. There's a hierarchy among anglers with catch-and-release fly-guys placing themselves at the top and noodlers planted firmly at the bottom.

Texas fishing guide Chad Ferguson says in the story, "The mentality of most of these guys attracted to noodling is to catch the biggest fish that they can and to keep everything that they catch."

Keep what you catch? Oh, horrors! Much better to wrestle them to the surface with a hook for your amusement before tossing them back into the water.

Deadly litter: Suburban Bushwhacker turned me onto a blog post that was sad beyond belief - it's about baby Pacific albatross dying because they are literally stuffed full of trash. Their parents feed it to them, thinking it's food.

Given my current state of mind about the hopelessness of humanity (see last post), this was very, very hard to look at. But it's really important to look and think about what happens to your trash.

If you litter, for the love of God, please stop. If you don't litter, that's fantastic, but can you honestly say that trash never flies out of the bed of your pick-up, zooms out of your car when you open the doors in a strong wind or falls out of your purse or backpack when you're retrieving other things?

I know I'd be lying if I said that didn't happen to me. And sometimes it seems unavoidable - shit happens. But we need to understand its impacts can be severe.

Those of us of a certain age remember a poignant TV commercial in the 1970s of an Indian surveying a littered landscape, a tear falling down his cheek. I personally know people who stopped littering because of that commercial.

But what happens to these baby albatross is so much more direct - litter isn't uglifying their landscape; it's KILLING THEM.

So, if you know someone who still litters, show 'em this video. Hand 'em a tissue first, though:

Happy ending: Aaaaaaaaand, sometimes humanity gives me hope. I have Jody at The Hunter's Wife to thank for finding this piece about a TV reporter saving some ducklings that had fallen through a storm drain grate:

That's the wrap for now. If you'd like to learn about all these things the minute I do, you can follow me on Twitter by going here.

© Holly A. Heyser 2011


Gretchen Steele said...

Holly - knowing that I am at the bottom of the angler caste system.. I've noodled, and we also catch carp by hand. I realize how terribly redneck it all sounds, but when you live in the backwater, and a large portion of your diet comes from those same murky rivers and backwaters you just become accustomed to it. I don't agree with the theory that it places the catfish population in danger. Certainly no more so than those who purposely set tree, limb and bank lines out where they know the catfish are holed up. Is it creepy? Well it has it's moments, and I am always just a little afraid of what I'm actually going to grab hold of - I've also gotten beat up fairly bad by a couple of large catfish.. scraped and skinned and rolled like a gator would roll you. It's definitely not for the faint of heart.
As for the carp - they are often left stranded behind after floodwater recedes. In that case it's a conservation effort as the Asian carp are currently taking over and destroying our native fisheries. We eat them, use them for compost, feed them to the dogs, give them to wildlife rehabbers, and outfitters who use them for bear bait. Waste not want not you know.

Gretchen Steele said...

BTW Holly - I can send you a link to a short video of my pal and I hand catching the carp earlier this year :) It will confirm for you that I am a hopeless backwater redneck kind of gal...

NorCal Cazadora said...

Oh, Gretchen, don't get me wrong - I have nothing against noodling. I just couldn't do it because I'd get the heebie jeebies, bigtime. I was rafting/swimming in the very clear lower American River in Sacramento once when I was much younger, and when a salmon brushed up against my leg, I screamed. Now, of course, I would probably try to grab it, but something in murky water? No way!

Jamie Cameron said...

As a veteran noodler, I love being classified as the bottom of the angling hierarchy. We mostly catch flathead catfish in the NC piedmont rivers, where they are introduced and invasive - hell on native fish populations. If I were going to war, I think I'd choose a gang of noodlers over fly-fishing elitists any day. (I fly fish too). Just like methods of hunting - to each his or her own as long as they pursue their quarry legally. Noodle on my brothers!

NorCal Cazadora said...

Now, see, this makes my heart ache, because I HATE both the fishing and hunting hierarchies, and I would like to noodle (and yes, keep and eat what I catch) just to thumb my nose at the elitists. Except that it freaks me out...

Jamie Cameron said...

Holly, I've seen tough guys wither on the river in the face of submerging over their heads, swimming down to a hole under a rock the size of a Volkswagon, going in up to their shoulders and reaching around blindly trying to entice a 50-lb catfish into biting (that's right, that's usually what happens)their hand and then wrasslin' it out as the air in their lungs depletes of oxygen. I've seen them because I've been one of them. But, teamwork and moral support get most to go back down and eventually, you become a noodler. It's as primitive as it gets. Waaaay harder than hook and line. It's pretty awesome.

Hil said...

Heebie-jeebies, big-time. I consider myself a pretty tough chick but the idea of noodling is too much even for me! Major kudos to anyone who has the stones to do it, though. You are "elite" in my book!

Shotgun Kat said...

Every time it rains really heavily here in Los Angeles you see the homeless people (who actually camp/live in the LA River) noodling for whatever comes down the line - usually carp. Kinda gross. I'm assuming these fish have 3 eyeballs and the contents of their stomachs probably look like those sad little baby albatross.

NorCal Cazadora said...

LOL - sad, but funny.

grapfhics said...

The garbage dump in the Pacific is probably the largest litter pile ever. The problem of animals ingesting plastic is not limited to there. It seems these waste plastics have a half life of the universe and birds, turtles, amphibians, fish and curious dogs think they are food.
Some days I find more spent shells than I have pocket space. Same problem different region. It's a shame that people can't concern themselves.

NorCal Cazadora said...

I pick up a lot of shells too. I miss some of my own, I'm sure - they can float away or sink before you get a chance to retrieve them. But I end just about every duck hunt with a clean-up of where I'm hunting - soda bottles, candy wrappers, ziploc bags and shells. I don't get how people can muster the strength to carry that stuff in when it's full, but not to carry it away when it's empty.

oldfatslow said...

Good old Chief Iron
Eyes Cody. Turns out
he wasn't Indian at
all. Italian guy in


oldfatslow said...

As to picking up hulls,
besides not wanting to
trash the marsh, I pick
them up so that I don't
advertise a spot where
I got to do some shooting
and because the game wardens
will write up a ticket if
I come back to the ramp
with ducks but no hulls.


NorCal Cazadora said...

No kidding - a ticket? I like that.

Brian said...

I not only CAR fly fish AND persistence hunt bison with a long bow and homde wood/flint arrows, but I do both activites naked...which makes me even better!! ;-)

I love a good debate about superiority of discipline. I would like watch someone noodling but am also not sure if I have the cajones to root around under some undercut!

NorCal Cazadora said...

Well, good Lord, I don't even know how to respond about that!

Yeah, not a fan of "my methods are better than yours" - important not to confuse choices with morals...

Wonder if anyone does naked noodling?

Peebs said...

You know pre horse most of the Bison we taken by "Pounding them" running them into walls or over a cliff and the lance was used to finish them. As for naked I doubt that the pictues of the Redman with loin cloth bunting buffs was the real picture, cowboys wore shaps for a reason that grass and bush would remove most of you skin in short order. As for noodling naked not if there are pearch or bluegill around they just love to bite anything that doesn't look normal.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Doesn't look normal? LOL, I'm going to refrain from responding to that! Heh heh heh.

Chas S. Clifton said...

"I had actually forgotten how to use our can opener."

My credulity is officially strained.

WV: Bereares: yes, they are awake and walking around in the woodseses.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Yes Chas, I really forgot how to use the can opener. The only canned goods we have in the house are tomato paste, and MAYBE canned tomatoes, if Hank has run out. Mostly he does his own canning, so all I have to do is open jars. Which I usually have him do because he seals them so #(*! tight.