NJOA Action – I Wish Us All a Dog’s Life
New Jersey – -(AmmoLand.com)- I wrote the following for the Federation’s newsletter and it was printed in the latest edition. All outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen should be striving to unite on issues that affect all of us – and to leverage our mass of 650,000 people to affect change in Trenton.
We don’t need to agree on everything – but we need to identify the major issues that affect fishing, hunting, trapping and conservation and rally behind these matters.
A united 650,000 people will make us the largest single voting bloc in NJ! Larger than the New Jersey education Association by more than 3 times!!!
Thanks to the NJSFSC for printing the original story.
I Wish Us All a Dog’s Life by Anthony P. Mauro, Sr, Chair, NJOA
“It’s a dog’s life” is a familiar saying. It is synonymous for a wretched life, a phrase rampant with all of the misery and subservience that filled a dog’s existence during the bleakness of the 16th century, the era credited with originating the expression. Still, as I hunted rabbit with beagles Jake, Penny and April the saying was smartened from slang to proverb, from meaning misery to meaning joy, brotherhood and love. Indulge me a moment.
Cathy Blumig and Len Wolgast are well known in outdoor circles, especially for their love of beagles and rabbit hunting. I was fortunate to accompany them to the rural acres of a Salem County farm. Our destination was an abandoned apple orchard, a place where tidy rows of upright boles once stocked their canopies with ripened produce. It is now a gnarled and knotted place, woodland hunched by advanced stages of decrepitude. Still, from the lemon comes lemonade and from the forsaken apple orchard comes habitat rich in wildlife.
The thorny hedgerows on this land are dotted with the vibrant colors of alighting cardinals and blue jays. The air carries the cheery cry of northern mockingbird and a nearby field acts as tarmac for the arrivals and departures of chattering geese. The entanglements of prickly bushes are arched into cozy bedding by resident deer and the entire neighborhood is potholed with the industry of woodchucks. The filaments of cracked milkweed flurry in the wintry gusts and eventually snare on spiny shrubbery. Overhead circles the red-tailed hawk, his piercing eyes scanning for prey.
Yet, with all due respect to my hosts and the spectacle of the orchard, it was the beagles that provided the magic of the day. As with most magic, it begins with a charismatic word that transforms the ordinary into extraordinary, only it was not the pronouncement “abracadabra” or “allakhazam” but instead a holler, “Tally Ho!”
It seems to me that words don’t evenly translate between man and beast. To man “Tally Ho” means “the rabbit is found, come quickly and follow its scent,” but to the canine it portends something different. The translation seems to be “joy is found over by my master, so let’s join him and sing of it to the world.” You might wonder how I know such a thing but it is a simple observation. Shout the word “Tally Ho” with all the enthusiasm of spotting a rabbit and the world will be startled by the dog’s exuberance; he will spring to you with unbridled delight and begin bawling songs in high spirit. Isn’t this the essence of joy?
There are other signs that “Tally Ho” is edited during translation. It seems for the dog it means brotherhood. Consider that the dog will snap at his cohorts whenever they near his chow or the many fearsome growls that occur when dogs irritate each other. But put these animals in a field and proclaim “Tally Ho” and they run to the spot where their master points united in common purpose. No longer are they irritated by their petty intrusions but instead begin a free-for- all of cooperation as they rally to follow scent. There is no bickering when tracking a rabbit, only forgiveness for their bumbles, trials and errors as they prioritize the decency of their mission and assign all else to triviality. Aren’t these the behaviors of brotherhood?
Finally, it would seem that “Tally Ho” is a word that stirs a labor of love in man’s best friend. What word is there that can cause one to be so enraptured that his ears can be split by thorns and stained red and not even be mindful of the ordeal? What word would invoke such profound purpose that we would exhaust ourselves in a day long chase and never think of rest, food or water? Who would labor so hard for a prize and when finally achieving it find little meaning in receiving praise? It is the way of the dog; don’t his actions define the word love?
The hunter is fortunate to have a role model for joy, brotherhood and love. We have an ideal we can take from the field and apply to the betterment of the hunting condition. Perhaps there is a substitute for “Tally Ho” that inspires the hunter to labor with joy, brotherhood and love for the furtherance of hunting, but I admit I have yet to learn of the expression. Should one of us learn this magical word please share it. Until such discovery I wish us all a dog’s life.
Anthony P. Mauro
Sr. Chairman, New Jersey Outdoor Alliance: “Because a lot happens behind our backs while we’re enjoying the outdoors.” www.njoutdooralliance.org
NJOACF Council Members:
Reef Rescue * NJ State Federation Sportsmen’s Clubs * Jersey Coast Anglers Association * Recreational Fishing Alliance * Trout Unlimited * National Wild Turkey Federation * NJ Beach Buggy Association * Hudson River Fishermen’s Association * United Bow Hunters NJ * New Jersey Council Diving Clubs * NJ Trappers Association * NJ Forestry Association * Society of American Foresters * Quail Unlimited * Ruffed Grouse Society * NJOA