Gun Control, Hunting and Politics

With the elections underway in Canada with what will be the longest and most expensive campaign in history, every hunter in the country is carefully considering their votes. Due to economic turmoils and angst, pundits are not sure if the nation will vote for an NDP-Liberal coalition or if the Conservatives will be swoon in once more with a minority government.

There are two concerns put forward by hunters: gun control and land access. The hunting community is strongly divided on the two issues.

Gun control

The Long Arm Registry put forward by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien followed the Montreal Massacre of 1989, and is the source of today’s discussions. Gun control became a heavily debated topic in Quebec, and federalists wanting to retain in the Quebecois nationalists appeased to them by imposing more restrictions under the Firearms Act created by Bill C-68. The provincial governments across the nation contended a federal registry is overstepping the bound power divisions and would be too expensive to maintain. The Supreme Court, however, ruled in favour of the Government of Canada.

Struggles to force gun-owners to comply was difficult, and various divisions did not enforce the mandatory registration. Red tapes had to be established with new purchases.

With bill C-68 passed, the debates ensued following the promise of a registry, rural Liberals MPs became anxious about losing their seats and warned the party not to follow through or risk losing every election afterward. Except the MPs were whipped. Consequently, the Conservatives became more popular amongst rural voters.

None of the mainstream political parties are pro-firearms. Only the Libertarian Party of Canada takes the stance of being lassiez faire.

After all, the Conservative Party of Canada did not fully repeal Bill C-68 and only portions of the registry. Non-restricted firearms.no longer have to be registered and data pertaining to non-restricted were scrapped in 2012. Registration of restricted and prohibited firearms are still in place. The Conservative Party of Canada is only interested in maintaining the status quo.

After the Long Gun Registry was thrown out, the federal parties quickly dropped the topic from their platforms. However, Quebec became worried about the registry and petitioned for its maintenance. Overnight, all the parties adopted regionalism as their talking point. The notion of a federal registry vanished. Strangely enough, Ottawa gave the go-ahead for a provincial registry to be created in Quebec.

In recent years, New Democratic Party Leader Thomas Mulcair gave conflicting answers. Leading up to the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in 2014, the following speech was given outside the House of Commons:

“I mean I have nothing against seeing honest farmers and duck hunters be able to have their weapons, but you know, that honest hunter who goes out with his pickup truck, it’s a registered pickup truck, and he’s carrying his 4×4 in a trailer and the trailer’s registered and the 4×4 is registered. Heck, his dog is registered.

I think that it is possible to provide the police with the tools to better protect the public and themselves by making sure they’re able to follow every gun, and it doesn’t have to be the registry as it was before. But it does have to be a form that allows the governments, federal and provincial, to keep track of those guns. That’s our bottom line.”

Since the NDP only gained its Opposition Status by usurping the seats from the Bloc Quebecois in the last election, one should not be surprised at the stance. What’s not clear is what kind of registry did Mulcair had in mind.

Does he mean the same kind of decentralized registration process in Scandinavia where they don’t have a national registry, but the gun is still registered at the local police office? No one knows.

Unsurprisingly, the caucus revolted and disagreed with their own leader and many of the MPs threatened to break ranks. The rural-urban divide still cuts through all the parties. The quick reversal of Mulcair’s stance is demonstrated at a rally in Thunder Bay several months after.

The problem is the NDP did not drop the topic of gun control from the policy platform (3.9d, pg. 15). Given the speech was made in Quebec at the time, and the provincial registry is underway, the attempt of brushing the speech under the carpet might be trying to win over voters in western Canada, Ontario and the Maritimes where the Long Gun Registry was strongly opposed. In fact, the party knows that installing another federal registry would be fruitless as Saskatchewan rejected the notion the first time around. Instead, the NDP is promoting the idea of empowering provinces’ right to self-determination.

The position taken by Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau is not reassuring either:

“I have said very clearly and I will repeat it that the Liberal Party will not bring back a gun registry. Jurisdictions around the world are looking into gun control. A lot can be done around classification, a lot can be done around proper review of the people looking to purchase firearms. There are many different ways of doing this and the Liberal Party is taking this seriously because Canadians are united in their desire to see less violence with guns.”

There is no clear, concise answer of what models the Liberal Party are researching. There are many different models around the world and if gun owners want to understand what they are voting for, the answer should be explicit. Otherwise, the voters will look to the party’s track records.

Given the Liberal Party of Canada’s history on gun control extending back to 1870s with the temporary registry established under during World War Two under Mackenzie King and Bill C-150 and C-51 creating firearms acquisition certificates and firearms classifications under Pierre Trudeau being recent memories, many firearms owners are are skeptical. Only one thing is clear, the party has a history of maintaining federalism at any cost since the beginning of confederation.

Voting for a certain ideology is not foolproof either since the former Progressive Conservatives of Canada (before being renamed as Conservative Party of Canada) were the ones who introduced Bill C-17 under Brain Mulroney’s successor, Kim Campbell, which further restrict what firearms can be owned. Additionally, conservative governments around the world throughout history, time and time again, shown they are in favour of gun control as long the measures keep the firearms out of the hands of landless or powerless and remains only in those of the landowners and urban gentry.

This is certain: the Quebec question will not go away anytime soon. The reason why the measures were enacted in the first place is because of Quebecois votes. As long the subject is a public debate in the province, gun control will always be brought up in parliament. Their wishes will be inflicted upon the rest of the country. French Canadiens will get what they want come hell or high waters.

The federal firearms registry for non-restricted guns is dead. The promoters quickly learned touching the topic is a surefire way of losing an election. What comes next, however, is uncertain.

Land access and the environment

In the past decade, the Government of Canada opened up the country to resource exploitation and the industry became much more intensive. At the moment, both Liberals and Conservatives are supporting Trans-Pacific Partnership with the Pacific Rim, Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe and Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China. Witnessing corporations bullying Canada’s environmental regulations under the North American Free Trade Agreement, hunters and anglers have every reason to be concerned about TPP, CETA and FIPA.

And one should be concerned. Right-leaning governments and neoliberals across the country are fast-tracking or streamlining regulations so regulations do not slow down development. The Navigable Water Protection Act, the oldest wilderness conservation law in Canada, was stripped and left 89% of the waterways unprotected. At all levels, both historic right of ways and environmental laws are being nullified so Canada can be the leading producer of raw materials.

The battleground is best illustrated in British Columbia. With the residents quickly watching their province becomes a playground for the rich multinationals, hunters and anglers became vocal with creating a chapter under Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and establishing Resident Priority.

With Nestlé being a controversial issue in B.C. during the drought combined with the Liberal Party of British Columbia opening up the provincial parks to outside interests, hunters and anglers are becoming more vocal. Indeed, much of the environmental activism in northern half are being led by hunters.

However, B.C. is no stranger to being ruled by corporate interests as huge chunks of Vancouver Island was sold to a coal baron Robert Dunsmuir which is now divided up and owned by TimberWest, Island Timberlands, and Hancock Timber who are now logging the island intensively and flipping the property for real estate. As the result, the corporations are refusing access. The fight about land access is becoming province-wide as people are questioning the rights of forestry companies and ranchers gating the roads. Unfortunately, some of the offenders happened to be foreign.

And the same stories are being repeated across Canada and the United States. Hunters and fishers say access used to better in decades past, and now the opportunities are becoming fewer and fewer.

What is at stake?

The election in October 2015 will be a very difficult one for hunters and fishermen. Should they listen to the gun lobby, or should they vote for their own economic future?

Traditionally, we have associated firearms ownership with hunting rights. These days, the equivalence no longer holds true. Perhaps the greatest threat of all is losing our heritage and our access.

Unfortunately, none of the parties has touched on the topic of what they can do to improve sportsmen’s access. While it was a Conservative MP who proposed Bill C-655 which criminalizes harassment of anyone lawfully hunting, fishing trapping or shooting, the bill received support from all four of Canada’s major parties including the Green Party. If a party is sincere about supporting hunters and anglers, then they should make hunting access part of the platform.

So far, none of the parties has demonstrated they are on the side of hunters and anglers. About time they should.

By |August 18th, 2015|Editorial|0 Comments|

Nordic Crispbread with Seeds

thinseedbread1These days, protein bars tend to taste like cardboard and after awhile becomes mundane. Hikers who actively avoid ready-made protein bars often make cashew or almond squares. Halla obtained the recipe from her aunt in Finland. Similar ones can be found on hiking blogs in Finnish and Swedish.

For a long time, crispbread was considered as a poor person’s foodstuff and can be found in the majority of the houses in Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Armies and schools stocked them due to their long shelf life and easy to carry. In recent years, crispbreads are being exported as health foods for the North American middle and upper class.

Many are familiar with crispbread with the commercialized Finnish brand Finn Crsip, Swedish brand Wasa and British brand Ryvita. They are often served with paté, salami, shrimps, cheese or sliced vegetables on top.

Crispbread is a calorie-dense snack ideal for farmers or forestry workers, and can be adapted for backpackers quite easily as the crisp bread does not need to be refrigerated.  These will keep for many months on the countertop or even years if stored correctly.

Ingredients

  • Canola oil, 2 — 3 Tbsp
  • Corn starch, 2 dL
  • Sesame seed, 0.5 dL
  • Flax seed, 0.5 dL
  • Pumpkin seed, 0.5 dL
  • Sunflower seed, 0.5 dL
  • Water, 2.5 dL
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C.
  2. Bring water to a boil and add the oils.
  3. Blend the ingredients into a large bowl.
  4. Lay down the parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet.
  5. Place into the oven for an hour.
  6. Remove from oven and let the batch cools

Conversions

  • 1 dL is 100 mL, 0.42 US cup or 3.4 fl. oz
  • 150°C is 302°F

Once the crispbread is removed from the oven and cooled down, then one can begin breaking the sheet into smaller pieces into proportion sizes desired for the trip. Personally, I like to divide them into 85 g snack bags.

For a heavier meal, feel free to double up on the seeds. Other variations of the crispbread with seed adds flour, however, the volume of water is adjusted. To vary the taste, adding dried cheese, garlic and herbs are not unusual.

To even the distribution of the spread, place another parchment paper on top of the mixture and press a rolling pin over it. A nice uniform thickness is desired.

By |August 16th, 2015|Tutorials|5 Comments|

Jerven Fjellduken Extreme Is Not For Everyone

jervenlogo

A few years ago, Brad Anderson introduced popular Norwegian hunting product to our social circle: Jerven Bag. A light bulb moment popped up and purchased the Fjellduken Extreme. The original plan for moose-hunting as a ground blind.

So, I tried to order one directly Jerven AS, but they redirected me to Varustelaka Oy. Including VAT, it was 349.99€ and charged only 4€ for shipping which brings the total to 353.99€. Much cheaper to buy it directly from Finland than ship it to Canada.

Fjellduken Thermo Hunter Courtesy of Varusteleka Oy.

Fjellduken Thermo Hunter
Courtesy of Varusteleka Oy.

Growing up in northern Alberta, we have had some frigid winters dropping into -40ºC and can be down to -50°C with windchill. Except climate change happened, and weather data indicate the trend for warmer and shorter winters.  What used to be a month or two of cold snaps only lasts two weeks. So, the Fjellduken was never used.

There is not much information about the Jerven Bag in North America. If one was to look around on the Internet, there are tons of mentions within the British bushcraft community. There is quite a bit of fetishism for Nordic militaries, so one should approach the reviews with caution.

Instruction on how to use the Fjellduken Thermo Extreme in Finnish and English. Courtesy of Varusteleka Oy.

Instruction on how to use the Fjellduken Thermo Extreme in Finnish and English. Courtesy of Varusteleka Oy.

The Fjellduken translates from Norwegian to “mountain tarp”, and has been around since 1983. The original purpose is to provide the military and hunters with a wind-sack so they can stay warm and dry while waiting at the frontline or for a moose to appear. Since then the Fjellduk became popular with NATO troops. The association with the military, along with the company’s name being translated to “wolverine” feed into the fetishism some people have.

To understand how military equipment are developed, one must understand collective bargaining and how government contracts balance quality and durability at the lowest possible cost for mass-production without endangering soldiers. There are several criteria: light as possible, dry quickly and robust.

One shouldn’t be surprised Jerven end up compromising with aluminized polyester textile with ripstop polyamide and PirmaLoft One filling. So, in essence, the product cannot be compared to the ultralight movement since the target audience is different.

For recreational purposes, the biggest purchasers are hunters and bushcrafters, particularly in Nordic countries and the United Kingdom. The former group uses the equipment very much like how the military utilizes: shedding wind and rain while waiting for the game to appear. The bushcraft community seems to insist on using the Fjellduk as a multipurpose tarp-sleeping bag-bivy hybrid.

And this is where the Thermo Extreme comes into play. It’s advertised as a sleeping bag alternative or a survival bag for Arctic conditions.

As a tarp, while can be pitched as one, there are lighter alternatives: nylon, silnylon, cuben and many other more suitable fabrics; and Jerven offers better alternatives within their own lineups. Nor is the Extreme a decent sleeping bag since there is no baffling and cold spots develop as the insulation shuffles around.

The Extreme is used for when the temperatures drop down to -20 or below, the potential of being soaked is high and winds are blowing hard which are all the conditions anticipated in the fells or any mountains in the north.

So, why do many people use Thermo Fjellduk as a sleeping bag or emergency shelter? Wet is wet, and both synthetic and down are equally miserable when drenched. The key difference is synthetic is hydrophobic.

With body heat, the moisture wicks away from the synthetic and dries out. Down, on the other hand, does not let go of moisture so readily. So, while the hypothermic person makes himself a cup of coffee or snack on protein bars to get the engine going, the bag dries out and becomes warm after maybe half an hour or an hour. A conventional sleeping bag, on the other hand, would not be so reliable in such a dangerous situation.

But let’s address the Fjellduken Extreme as a sleeping bag. There is no EN 13537 rating to fairly compare to other competitors. The reason is military equipment, as well as polar equipment, are exempted from standardization. However, if we were to look at the anecdote from Jerven AS’s catalogue, one quickly notices the users wear all of their winter clothes inside the bag. So, to advertise the Extreme as a -40 bag is a misleading, but not entirely inaccurate, as the details about wearing bulky clothes augmenting to the rating is left out. The best way to envision the application is to read about the re-warming drill from Sitka Gear.

Hikers use layers as well and fare well down to -35 or -40 in bags rated between -10 and -17. When one starts reading lists of different sleeping bags on the market, the Jerven Fjellduken Extreme is in the same weight range for similar winter bags with synthetic fills. A true -40ºC, down-filled, is about the same weight.

fjelldukenentirekitFor the gram-weenies:

Item Weight (grams)
 Tarp-Bivy  1760
 Armings (pair)  66
 Rescue flag  50
Compression sack  186
Total 2062

The webbing belt is not included because it was not shipped with the package. Not sure if a factory error occurred, or if it’s a holdover from an old stock. Either way, the webbing can easily be replaced at home and paracord are everywhere in the household.

Fjellduken Extreme is 204 × 220 cm and can be folded into half to become a 102 × 220 cm bivy sack. The zippers are YKK and the PirmaLoft One is stuffed at 170 g/m². The textile comes in either mountain or forest camouflage and is also available in blaze orange. Compression sack measures 32 × 70 cm. All Jerven products come with two aluminized armings and a rescue flag.

fjelldukengrommetandzipperThe entire perimeter can be unzipped to become a tarp or a massive blanket. Or it can be partly unzipped to become a cloak. While the textile is waterproof, the bag itself is not as there are grommets on every corner and the zipper themselves have small gaps. Draft is only noticeable if one is wearing only the base layer.

For a musher or a rider on a snow machine, the Extreme is perfect for those conditions in the high Arctic in situations where water is still flowing underneath the snow and accidentally submerge the sled or shorts the engine and wetting the driver and the passenger. For winter trekking, on the other hand, the volume and weight for its performance is a concern.

While hunters and special forces share a lot in common for what they demand from their equipment, the needs start to diverge below a certain temperature as the special ops must force themselves into situations where most citizens would dare not.

A Jerven windsack more appropriate for above-freezing would guarantee being able to sleep in the marshes where waterproof-breathable bivy bag would only become saturated with  moisture from the environment and wets out. For below freezing, particularly when dry, a proper winter sleeping bag would be more adequate for the volume-weight ratio.

To emphasize how crucial volume is, a summer hiker using 30 to 50L backpack can anticipate doubling the volume in the winter. The margin of error is much higher and safety cannot be compromised as dying in the cold is a daily possibility. So, one must pack adequate insulation which takes up the bulk of the backpack. Even other equipment such larger pots combined with remote canister stove or white gas stove easily doubles or quadruple the weight of an upright stove or specialized ones like avalanche shovel, crampons, ice axe, folding saw depending on the situation must be taken into consideration.

While the simplicity is to be admired, opportunities to use the Jerven Bag were far and few.  To consider sleeping with it, the temperature must be at least -10°C below. Otherwise, one may find it too warm to sleep and venting is not always an option without freezing. Oftentimes, just sleeping with a normal sleeping bag or quilt is much more of a pleasant experience.

Immediately, after crawling in, condensation emerges and ones begin to become clammy from their own body sweats. Part of this is because of the waterproof polyester textile and the moisture is not permitted to penetrate and pass through the bag. Condensation can be addressed by using eVent, but the material cannot be used in front of the fire and the price would be driven up.

If used as a substitute for a sleeping bag, a sleeping mattress must be brought along. The body heat alone will melt the snow below and solidify into ice adhering the Fjellduk onto the surface. One must slowly peel off if they wish to pack up in the morning, or wait for the sun to rise to melt the ice. Also, once ice forms underneath, sleeping is guaranteed to be uncomfortable.

A groundcloth is not sufficient enough to ensure a good night’s sleep as the ground harden. The bag will keep warm throughout the night, however, one will be waking up every half an hour or so to change sleeping position. Only sleep outside without other gears if necessary.

Since the days are short, and the nights are long, being comfortable at the camp is crucial. Quality sleep is emphasized due to the difficulty of walking or skiing through snow. For me, the Thermo Extreme does not offer either.

Instead, the Jerven Fjellduken Extreme will be sold to someone who wants an emergency kit for his rig. This is where the product has a potential to shine: under the seat of a snowmobile, truck, motorcycle, bushplane or in a dog sled. Overall, the product is very well made considering the target demographic,  but myself as a consumer became overzealous in analyzing my needs.

If I was to purchase another Jerven, it would be either original or the hunter model as both would be used more often. They can be used as an over-bag and combined with a down-filled sleeping bag or quilt for warmth and versatility.

 

By |August 14th, 2015|Gear, Reviews|0 Comments|

Software: MyMoose

Over the last few decades, hunters worldwide have been noticing the decline of moose populations. The reason is not clear. There are many factors at play and biologists in different countries, or even from province to province or state to state, are attributing the crash to a variety of reasons.

mymoosesetupIn British Columbia, wildlife biologists and Goldstream Publishing of Prince George collaborated to develop the MyMoose app relying upon the model of citizen science. Currently, moose populations are surveyed by air. With the budgets constantly being rolled back or cut, researchers are more and more restricted in how much reliable data they can collect. MyMoose was designed to bridge the gap and enables everyone to contribute by volunteering a small portion of their time.

Since a large part of North American conservation still rely on feedback from trappers, hunters and anglers as they are the most frequent users of the backcountry, the app is targeted toward that demographic. Very few groups actually bother to go off the trail or have an interest in sceneries which are not majestic. However, hikers and other non-hunting recreational users can still use the app. In fact, many of the workers who regularly go into the bush use the software quite frequently. Every bit helps.

mymoosereportOne survey per day can be submitted, and the collectors actively encourage reporting both sightings and absences. In the survey form, one can specify how many bulls, cows, and calves. In instances where the sex cannot be identified, then “unspecified” has a separate field. Once an observation is made, then one can specify with Wildlife Management Unit then drag and point about where the animals were seen.  Finally, one should identify which kind of activity associated with the sighting such as hunting, hiking, on the road, caught by a wildlife camera or happenstance sitting at home. Since the focus is only about moose, observations of other wildlife such as feral horses, wolves, deer and elks can only be an addendum in the notes.

The app is designed to work offline as Canada is notorious for having poor connections, and non-existent signals in much of the country. To save bandwidth, one can choose to turn off the mobile communication and only upload the survey at a Wi-Fi location.

mymoosefeedUpon opening the app, one immediately notices a feed filled with other people’s reports and accomplishments. Naturally, suspicions about hunting spots being shared with others is aroused. But do not fret, one must opt-in to make these sightings public.

There are some concerns about the data collected being handed over to the Liberal Party of British Columbia and subsequently the Guide Association Outfitters of B.C. The concern is legitimate as wildlife does not have a separate conservation fund in the province and instead everything is funneled into general revenue which makes the field more prone to corruption. However, biologists understand hunters want to keep their “honey holes” a secret and guarantee privacy is protected and is set as default.

The app can be downloaded for iOS or Android for free. Unfortunately, the app is not available for Blackberry products which is unfortunate since RIM still constitutes a large share of the Canadian market. Meanwhile, for users without the appropriate smartphone still has a relatively well-developed web platform to submit their data.

By |August 12th, 2015|Reviews|0 Comments|

Running a Dog With A Bicycle

SAM_2366-Medium-e1407093223119For any hunter with a dog, to get the most out of their season they must keep their companion in tiptop shape. The most common way of exercising a dog in North America is by going on the backroad or county road with a truck and asking the dog to run in front of the vehicle. In Europe, hunters take the same roads except on bicycles with dogs tethered alongside them.

For most hunters, they will only have one or two dogs to focus on. With running large packs, either the dogs are trained to listen to the horn of the vehicle or the crack of the whip. However, only Foxhound and Coonhound owners concern themselves with running large numbers of dogs. The vast majority of hunters do not live on properties which allow for so many.

After walking, jogging and running, the bicycle is the most accessible form of exercise there is. Not everyone can afford a truck, and not all can risk going on gravel roads with a car. Any kind of bike will do, but the easiest one to find tend to be mountain bikes or hybrids.

To start, one must decide if they are going to have a dog pulling the bike with a noodle, or a dog running alongside the bike. Except mushing with a dog inside city limit is dangerous as the dog can easily pull into traffic. The safest way is to have a dog running alongside, preferably with something sturdy like a Springer. If one keeps their dog on the right side where the sidewalks are, then the cyclist acts as a shield against passing cars. Some of the fixtures allow for two dogs with one on each side.

Why a bicycle

  • More economical as the gas price is increasing on a yearly basis.
  • Keep both the hunter and the dog in shape by increasing the VO2max.
  • Moderates speed according to the need of the dog.
  • Access pieces of lands which are off limit to motorized vehicles.

Considerations for the dog

Cycling with a dog is different from going for a bike ride. One is tempted to pedal as fast as possible, but we must keep pace.

Keep the dog at a trot, and don’t force them to gallop. Trotting is the natural gait of the dog, and is considered as an aerobic activity similar to long-distance running with endurance athletes. Galloping is anaerobic thus tiring and more equivalent to sprinting. We want our dogs to able to search for game in the forest for two to eight hours.

Interval training of alternating gallop and trot can be built into the routine. Design the galloping intervals around small stretches or landmarks such as going up a long hill.

Other things to be aware of for the dog:

  • Go cycling late in the evening or early in the morning to prevent heat exhaustion.
  • Use the brake to maintain a  constant speed on the downhill.
  • Run on grass or gravel. Check the dog’s paws occasionally as abrasion will wear away at the pads and nails.
  • Avoid asphalt and sidewalks. The ground is not as elastic, and repetitive impact on hard surfaces will cause injuries to the joints over time.
  • Do not exercise the dog after a meal. Dogs with large ribcages will develop the bloat, which is fatal.
  • For the first 500 meters, allow the dog to relief itself. Some dogs need to defecate or urinate once they start warming up.
  • Take a break every 15 minutes or every 5 kilometers.
  • Remember to provide the water during the breaks.
  • Use a harness instead of a collar. The airway can be crushed if the dog constantly pulls or is dragged behind.
  • Wait until the dog is at least a year old before subjecting it to strenuous exercises.

As a general rule of thumb, a puppy is done growing at about 12 months. In actuality, it can take anywhere between 217 to 495 days after birth for the growth plates to close. Each breed matures at different rates, and individuals themselves finish growing at different times. Until then, the dog should engage in free play and off-leash exercises. Do not push a young pup when it tires.

Once a pup matures, then one can begin taking them out for jogging, long hikes, cycling, skiing, and sledding. Obviously, one shouldn’t take a dog with a physical deformity or extreme cases of dwarfism such as Pug, English Bulldog or many other toy breeds.

Cycling safety

  • Wear yellow. Motorists respect cyclists who wear bright yellow, and are often only rude to those who don’t.
  • Take driver’s education, even if one cannot pass the eye exam. Knowing how motorists behave on the road, and understanding the cyclist-motorist conflicts reduce the number of accidents.
  • Carry a dog spray for off-leash dogs. Use the water bottle holster for quick access.
  • Watch out for swathes of tall grass. The city doesn’t mow them for a reason, and oftentimes there is a large hole or ditch.
  • Be wary of biking through alleyways where there are stray cats abound. Prey-driven dogs will crash the bike into a fence.

Be prepared for harassments from off-leash dogs. Many dogs in North America are not conditioned to ignoring bicycles, and most are not used to seeing cyclists with dogs. Even if the owners say the dog is friendly, they should be responsible enough to keep their dogs close. Having a dog tethered to a bicycle changes the equation, and impossible to anticipate how both dogs will react or interact.

Worse, watch out for property protection dogs. A dog tethered to a bicycle often provokes them into leaving the yard, even though they are well-trained to stay within the perimeter. The last thing anyone wants to do is separate an aggressive, muscular dog from their own pooch and ending up in the hospital for it.

The cyclist tactic for dealing with these kind of dogs is to dismount and use the frame of the bike as a weapon. If your dog is tethered, however, this is not an option and one must carry some kind of alternative such as using the pump as a baton and call for help. Expect a delay since the scene is a spectator sport to the owners.

Ultrasound deterrent is a frontline defense and stops some dogs from chasing, but not all.  They only work up to 15 meters, and fences, trees, shrubs, and hills render them less effective. If pepper spray is necessary, such as dog spray or bear spray, remember they are considered as weapons and should never be on another human being. Oftentimes, charges are laid and using a spray as a weapon is a jailable offense even in self-defence.

Cycling with a dog is safe

Most of the above guideline are mere precautions. These incidents occur rarely, and when they do occur, they could had been prevented.

Most of the problems with stray dogs chasing bicycles occur in the rural areas where there are no leash laws and private property rights are at their strongest. Peace officers nor animal control do not have the resource to enforce existing laws without angering the locals. For urbanites, the most they need to worry about are people who are convinced their off-leash dog are trained well enough to deal with any situations when they are not.

How to get started

The best way to accustom the dog is biking is by letting him run off leash on public lands and do some mountain biking or trail riding. Unfortunately, not everyone has good recalls for their dogs and must keep them on a leash.

To condition the dog around bicycles, simply put him on a lead and take him for a walk alongside the bicycle. Use treats liberally to promote present a positive association between walking and the bicycle. Do not ride until the dog no longer reacts to its presence.

Once the dog is calm, which should take a week, mount the bike and start pedaling. Start with a few hundred meters, then gradually add more kilometers to build endurance.

City hunters with prey-driven dogs often run into cats or squirrels. To stay stable on the bicycle, purchase a Springer imported from Norway. The spring-loaded coil is strong enough to stop large dogs from pulling the bike sideway. Other brands such as WalkyDog from Italy are best suited for smaller dogs which do not have the momentum or mass to knock the cyclist over.

Many dog enjoys running along a bicycle. The most important thing is to focus on fitness of both you and the dog. A dog which was not exercised to trot or to run will tire itself out early in the day. Once the dog becomes lame or ends up with sore paws, then the hunting season ends. If we want to keep good form, then it is crucial to exercise the dog every other day.

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By |August 11th, 2015|Editorial|0 Comments|