Friday, November 25, 2005

Gamefowl History - Cockfighting Facts They Don't Teach You.

Gamefowl Cockfighting - A History They Don't Teach You.

An Excellent Article Full Of Facts You May Not Know About.

The rising popularity of cockfighting in the past decade has placed the Ozarks, and in particular the White River region, in the forefront of this ancient blood or pit sport. Sportsmen in our region, and others with family connections here, have served as officers and lobbyists in the national and Missouri United Gamefowl Breeders Association.

Animal rights activists in Missouri have risen to oppose cockfighting, seeking prohibitive legislation, so far unsuccessfully. The debate over this sport, which is deeply rooted in the traditions of the Ozarks, calls for an historical review. Such a review is especially helpful in considering cockfighting since, as one southern mountaineer said in regard to the sport, "Here’s history they don’t teach you."

A wise Missouri jurist wrote that "Tradition depends not at all upon thinking, nor is it disturbed by thinking. Of all the influences which affect the conduct and affections of men, none is so powerful as tradition. Resting upon use and custom, it is independent of the caprice of man and exercises over him an uncontrollable dominion.

The value of tradition lies in its unreasonableness. It contains experience rather than thinking." And therein lies much of the debate: tradition unites us, convictions divide us, a rule that Thomas Jefferson knew well when he said that "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing."The power of words in any debate is always important, but our interests include the legacy of tradition. Cockfighting has bestowed upon the English language an array of popular idioms upon which modern sports depend heavily. In boxing they include, match (in weight, to pit one against another), main event, battle royal, the ring (early pits were round instead of the squarish or rectangular ones ultimately used), weigh-in, handlers, and clean-cut (de-wattled). Even boxing gloves are a descendant of cocks’ spurs covered with muffs for sparring.

One’s spirit is often described by a cocking term: cocky, game (plucky), chicken, raised hackles, crestfallen, and yellow. Orchestras are seated in the former cockpit space in theaters, and pilots reside there in airplanes. Affluence is described as well-heeled, a reference to good-fitting steel gaffs attached to the cock’s natural spur for fighting. Workers are familiar with the pecking order on the job and supervisors who are cocksure. Nearly everyone has used cocktail, originally "cock ale," a stimulant that was and is fed to fighting cocks before a main event. The term cock of the walk, a champion bird, referred to the gamecock exercise area and is better known now for the restaurant chain.

In a world where change is the constant, the blood sports of cockfighting, bullfighting, and dogfighting have survived virtually unchanged for three thousand years; cockfighting is by far the most pervasive.

Most authorities allege that the beginnings of cockfighting were in southeast Asia, where partridge and quail competed, but as a sport, it seems so ubiquitous that no specific country can claim to be the point of origin. Some claim that the domestic chicken’s ancestor was the wild junglefowl in the dense Asian tropics. Once the cocks were domesticated, travelers and merchants diffused them and the pit sport through India, across Persia (modern Iran), and into the Middle East. Mediterranean cultures practiced the sport widely in the late first millennium B.C. while elevating the gamecock to divine status, as some Asian cultures did.

Themistocles, the Athenian general, is credited with introducing the sport into Greece, and Greeks intro-duced it into Rome, while Rome diffused it into the greater empire including Britain. Ancient lore records that Mark Antony’s gamecocks always lost to Caesar, a portent of Antony’s own future. The Romans introduced artificial spurs for combat, developed organized cockfighting, and engraved fighting cocks on silver coin of the empire.

Archaeologists, at the Italian excavations of Pompeii (destroyed in 79 A.D.), unearthed a mosaic of two cocks in combat. Pit sports, in general, took deep root in Roman society, culminating in the contests of lions against Christians.Cockfighting in the Ozarks comes more immediately from our British colonial inheritance; in fact, the sport (after boxing) was probably the first European one in the New World. By the 12th century, schoolboy cocking was an annual event in some grammar schools. Students brought their cockpennys to school, building a fund to finance the event at the end of the term --prizes were awarded to the winners. The grammar school competitions in Britain continued into the early nineteenth century.

By the sixteenth century, pit sports -- bearbaiting, bullbaiting, dogfighting, boarfighting, lionfighting, and cockfighting --were a national theater that grew to international renown into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. "Hawks, hounds and cocks were true marks of a country gentleman," said one commentator, and gambling became irrevocably tied to the sport.

Shakespeare referred to the pit sports in many of his plays -- Macbeth, King Lear, several Kings Henry, and others knew well the bear garden and cockpit. Indeed, King Henry Viii’s new cockpit at the Palace at Whitehall, constructed in 1536, remained a sporting center until 1816. English kings of the seventeenth century recognized cocking as a national sport, including the appointment of a cockmaster who supervised the breeding, rearing, and training of gamecocks for the royal pit. All classes participated in the sport, but the aristocracy set much of the tone in celebrating well-bred and well-trained gamecocks.

By the nineteenth century, their named birds became champions for spectators to place wagers upon.The degree to which participants idealized game-cocks seems little short of remarkable to modern observers. Flags and banners waved atop cockpits to advertise the sport. A chord of dissonance, however, did criticize the events.

A serious complaint by Puritan preachers began during the reign of Elizabeth 1(1558-1603) that denounced the brutality of blood sport and urged suppression of the spectacles. By the end of the seventeenth century, secular voices joined the religious ones. As cockfighting assumed widespread popularity in the eighteenth century, England’s literary masters castigated the sport as cruelty to animals. The famous British historian Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859), taking an explicit shot at the critics, claimed that the Puritans deplored such sport "not because it gave pain to the animal but because it gave pleasure to the spectators." "This articles continues" Click here to read the rest of the article "cockfighting facts they don't teach you".

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wild Turkey Facts. Hunters Have Helped Increase Wild Turkey Populations!

Wild Turkey Facts. Thank You Hunters!
By Larry Chandler
Reprinted with permission.

Imagine going on a turkey hunt only to find there are no
wild turkeys! It sounds far fetched, but in the early 1930s this grand game bird was on the verge of extinction. But today, thanks to hunters and wildlife restoration programs, the wild turkey is abundant and thriving in its homeland.

Wild turkeys are native to North America and there are five subspecies: Eastern, Osceola (Florida), Rio Grande, Merriam's and Gould's. All five range throughout different parts of the continent. The eastern is the most common and ranges the entire eastern half of the U.S. The Osceola (Florida) is only found on the Florida peninsula, while the Rio Grande ranges through Texas and up into Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. Rios are also found in parts of the northwestern states. The Merriam's subspecies ranges along the Rocky Mountains and the neighboring prairies of Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. And you can find Gould's throughout the central portion of Mexico into the southernmost parts of New Mexico and Arizona.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 feathers cover the body of an
adult turkey in patterns called feather tracts. A turkey's feathers provide a variety of survival functions-they keep him warm and dry, allow him to fly, feel and show off for the opposite sex. The head and upper part of the neck are featherless, but if you look close, you can see little bumps of skin on the bare area. Most of the feathers exhibit a metallic glittering, called iridescence, with varying colors of red, green, copper, bronze and gold.

The gobbler, or male turkey, is more colorful, while the hen is a drab brownish or lighter color to camouflage her with her surroundings. Two major characteristics distinguish males from females: spurs and beards. Both sexes have long powerful legs covered with scales and are born with a small button spur on the back of the leg. Soon after birth, a male's spur starts growing pointed and curved and can grow to about two inches. Most hen's spurs do not grow. Gobblers also have beards-tufts of filaments, or modified feathers, growing out from the chest-which can grow to an average of nine inches (though they can grow much longer). It must also be noted that 10 to 20 percent of hens have beards.

Wild turkeys have excellent vision during the day but don't see as well at night. They are also very mobile. Turkeys can run at speeds up to 25 mph, and they can fly up to 55 mph.

When mating season arrives, anywhere from February to April, courtship usually begins while turkeys are still flocked together in wintering areas. After mating, the hens begin searching for a nest site and laying eggs. In most areas, nests can be found in a shallow dirt depression, surrounded by moderately woody vegetation that conceals the nest.

Hens will lay a clutch of 10 to 12 eggs during a two-week period, usually laying one egg per day. She will incubate her eggs for about 28 days, occasionally turning and rearranging them, until they are ready to hatch. A newly-hatched flock must be ready to leave the nest within 12 to 24 hours to feed.

Poults eat insects, berries and seeds, while adults will eat anything from acorns and berries to insects and small reptiles. Turkeys usually feed in early morning and in the afternoon. Wild turkeys like open areas for feeding, mating and habitat. They use forested areas as cover from predators and for roosting in trees at night. A varied habitat of both open and covered area is essential for wild turkey survival.

Lack of quality habitat was a problem in the past, but with the passing of the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937, an excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, wildlife restoration programs now have money to use to restore wild turkeys and wild turkey habitat. And with the invention of the rocket net, wildlife agencies and the NWTF can trap and transfer turkey populations to areas of suitable habitat.

From only 30,000 turkeys in the early 1900s to nearly 7 million today, this intriguing species has truly made an awesome comeback.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

More Outbreaks Of Bird Flu In China

BEIJING - China reported on Sunday November 20, 2005

Two new outbreaks of bird flu in which almost 3,700 poultry died and more than 7,000 were culled as provinces hit by the deadly virus tightened preventive measures.

About 3,500 geese died at a family farm in a development zone in Shishou city in the central province of Hubei, the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that 3,800 poultry were slaughtered within a radius of 3 km (2 miles).

In the northern region of Inner Mongolia, 176 domestic poultry died and 3,202 poultry were culled, Xinhua said. It gave no further details.

The agency quoted Health Minister Gao Qiang as saying China has basically brought bird flu under control.

Beijing and four provinces have tightened preventive measures, the Web site of the Ministry of Agriculture said.> China has been trying to contain about a dozen outbreaks of the H5N1 strain among poultry in at least six provinces in the past month. It announced last week plans to vaccinate billions of birds.

A lethal strain of the H5N1 virus has killed 67 of the 130 people it has infected in Asia since late 2003 -- mainly Vietnam and Thailand.

But the real fear is that it will mutate and acquire the ability to pass from human to human, causing a global pandemic.
Last week, Asian Pacific leaders vowed to bolster co-operation to fight bird flu and stage a "desktop" simulation drill in early 2006 to test regional responses and communication in the event of a pandemic.

Beijing was roundly criticized for covering up SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which started in southern China in 2003, then spread to Hong Kong, the rest of Asia and North America, killing hundreds of people.
Courtesy (Reuters)

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