In recent weeks the news and media have been filled with reports about protesters demanding action on climate change. So, in the interest of covering important and current events related to the outdoors, once again, I am bringing you a recording of a talk. This time the speaker is the campaigning journalist and climate change activist John Gibbons. You can find more about John and his work by visiting his blog thinkorswim.ie. The talk was recorded during the March Green Drinks event hosted by The Dublin Branch of The Irish Wildlife Trust.
It all started on Twitter. Shaun contacted me and casually suggested that I record an episode of the podcast from South Africa. We exchanged a few messages and Shaun sent me a few photos. It quickly became obvious that he can talk for hours about riding a mountain bike in the stunning landscapes of South African game reserves. In the episode Shaun describes not only the South African mountain biking scene but we also talk about encounters with African wildlife. Yes, it’s pretty scary at times! This episode undoubtedly can give you an idea for a bucket list mountain biking trip.
Recently I have read a lot of articles, blogs and press releases about fox hunting with hounds. The vast majority was negative. They were pointing out the cruelty of the endeavour and the callousness of participants. There were even reports about protesters clashing with hunt supporters. Also in my own circle, fox hunting with hounds is often criticized by people who otherwise don’t have an issue with hunting in general. In fact, this type of hunting has its opponents in other parts of the world too. For example, American outdoorsman Steven Rinella in his book Meateater, which I reviewed in episode 2, tells his own story about hunting with hounds. He describes how his initial negative childhood experience was turned around in his thirties when he hunted with a professional houndsman.
The best way to form an opinion is to have a first-hand experience. Early this year, I was lucky enough to spend the weekend with a fellow outdoorsman, and our guest on episode 33, Aaron Turner. After finishing breakfast in his farmhouse, we headed for the hills where a few houndsmen and their dogs were in the middle of a hunt. We quickly took an elevated position on one of the fields and began glassing to locate the hunting pack. Initially, we spotted only two leading hounds, but after a short while the main pack of about 16 dogs emerged from the nearby forestry. Soon we could hear the dogs baying.
Baying is a loud sound made by a hound when it picks up a scent trail. It resembles something between barking and howling. It is meant to let other hounds in the pack know that a new trail has been picked up. I must admit that it was truly remarkable to observe those dogs hunting. They ran the surrounding hills like it was nothing! We could see them crossing the field a few meters away in one direction, and just a few minutes later we could see the entire pack again on the skyline on the hills a few miles away in the opposite direction. It was also amazing to see the phenomenal level of control a houndsman has over the pack. Once he started calling his dogs, they quickly dropped the trail, aborted the hunt, and began running towards him. My friend observed that often people who criticize hunting with hounds are unable to call their toy dog back from the park.
The hunt itself is quite random in nature. Hounds pick and lose scent trails many times during each hunt. Some dogs in the pack lose the trail and others pick it up. There is no guarantee however that they will pick up the same trail that the previous dogs lost. In addition, dogs can’t tell from the scent which way the animal went. As a result, they might hunt in the opposite direction and eventually lose the trail again. That is not a problem however, as catching or killing an animal is not really the purpose of the hunt. In reality, dogs are often fed before the hunt which makes them slower and consequently less likely to catch fast-moving critters like hares. What counts is the time spent outdoors with the dogs.
It is hard to avoid the impression that most of the critics of hunting with hounds either live in urban areas or just moved to the countryside from a city. This usually means that they are missing the connection with the land and the wildlife. They only kind of understand the circle of life. They do not farm and are oblivious to issues like the necessity of predator control. The sight of a dead aminal is alien to them as they were comfortably isolated from such things while going about their city lives. However, if a fox snatched their cat or small dog they’d be up in arms that someone should do something about it! Then, I suspect, they would be much more tolerant of lethal fox population control.
No furry animals were hurt during the hunt.
I was introduced to Paul Carroll by one of our mutual friends. He couldn’t speak highly enough about Paul’s initiative called Rebike. So, I sat down with Paul in his Greenway Café in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford and talked about Rebike Ireland. In a nutshell, Paul collects broken and unused bicycles that otherwise would end up in a landfill. He then repairs them and donates them to schools, charity organizations or individuals in need. In the podcast, we talk about Rebike beginnings, how a simple bicycle can change a person’s life, as well as the environmental and social impacts of Paul’s work. All that with the Waterford Greenway (covered in episode 10) in the background.
Today we’ve got something a little bit different. Instead of a guest, I have brought you a recording of a live talk by Pádraic Fogarty from Irish Wildlife Trust titled: Whittled Away, Ireland’s Vanishing Nature. Pádraic is also the author of the book with the same title and I had the pleasure to chat with him last year on episode 20 of the podcast.
Last Wednesday, Pádraic was invited to give the talk to the Kildare branch of BirdWatch Ireland and I thought it was a pity that they weren’t planning to stream or even record it. So I contacted organizers Brendan Murphy and Tom McCormack from BirdWatch Ireland and, with their permission recorded it.
So, here you have it. Irish Wildlife Trust, Campaign Officer, Pádraic Fogarty and his talk for the Kildare branch of BirdWatch Ireland: “Whittled Away, Ireland’s Vanishing Nature”.
Oh, and don’t forget to buy the book!
Tommy’s Outdoors podcast and blog talks and promotes all things outdoors. From cycling and running, to hunting and fishing. If it takes place in the outdoors we got it covered. Some of these activities involve prolonged hours spent in sometimes remote outdoor locations. Moreover, they often require handling of mechanical devices or sharp objects. With all these factors combined, the risk of injury is higher in certain groups of outdoor enthusiasts. That is especially true if we add to the mix adverse weather conditions and physical exhaustion.
For those reasons, knowledge of basic first aid procedures is important. Also, having adequate first aid equipment at hand can make the critical difference between serious problems and a lucky recovery. It is part of Tommy’s Outdoors mission to spread the knowledge about basic safety procedures not only among our subscribers but to anyone who happens to come across our website or podcast. You never know when a piece of information grabbed online might come in handy in a time of distress.
It is no secret that modern publishing platforms like blogs or podcasts are powered by the unflagging popularity of social media platforms. Tommy’s Outdoors podcast is no different and we spend many hours every week interacting online with our listeners, readers and supporters. During those interactions, especially on Twitter, my attention was drawn to Ted Kelleher’s first aid shop. Ted came across as a calm, supportive and knowledgeable individual. I immediately noticed that the message that Ted has for his followers is very much aligned with the aforementioned part of Tommy’s Outdoors mission.
The content presented by Ted’s first aid shop ticks all the boxes in this regard. By following Shop FirstAid social media channels and by browsing his excellent online shop, outdoor enthusiasts can choose from a variety of safety-related gear. But that’s not all! Ted complements his offering with a collection of educational articles. From them we can learn, not only what first aid gear we might need in any given situation, but also how to use it. His blog talks about the prevention and treatment of simple injuries like cuts or sunburns. But, Ted also educates us about more complex and serious issues like Lyme disease or jellyfish stings. You will not find this anywhere else!
And so, if you are an outdoorsy type, who likes to venture a little further off the beaten track, please remember that Ted Kelleher’s Shop First Aid has you covered. Visit this great online resource to educate yourself about common problems and to understand what gear you might need. It goes without saying that once you have chosen the required equipment you can conveniently purchase it at Ted’s online shop. And once you’ve got yourself equipped for all eventualities, head back to Tommy’s Outdoors for more inspiration for your next outdoor adventure. See you in the outdoors!
Some of you might remember Kuba from episode 12 of the podcast where we talked about his hand-made fishing lures. We ended that episode teasing about Kuba’s planned cycle through the Sahara desert to reach his bucket list fishing destination. Well, Kuba is back and in this episode we talk about that cycling and fishing adventure. It is really great to hear his stories from exotic countries. The cycle was also a fundraiser for aware.ie, a voluntary organization which aims to assist people whose lives are affected by depression. Please go and donate without hesitation!