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Wednesday, May 27, 2009


My friends who hunt with bows and arrows sometimes speak almost in poetic terms about the contest of wits between their ‘game’ and them. Unfortunately, a time honored tradition among hunters states that, “What happens in Elk Camp stays in Elk Camp” (unless Cousin Joe starts drinking too much and starts blabbing), so I’m a little sketchy on all the details. It is hard to imagine that bringing human weapons technology (state of the art carbon fiber compound bows, GPS positioning devices, two-way radios, house-size 4-wheel drive pickups and generous aliquots of ‘synthetic?’ elk urine) to bear on grazing herbivores can be considered a fair contest.

However, once, while in my canoe, I surprised a herd of elk coming to get water at the side of a lake and I’m pretty sure I caught the members of that highly organized gang “talking” to each other. The elk sentries, who hadn’t expected a threat to appear from the water, bugled a short series of commands in an efficient battle language, and suddenly the entire disciplined group simply vanished. Given this high degree of communal coordination, I figured that elk would almost certainly have an advantage in a battle of wits with me, even if I had an attack helicopter at my disposal.

Fortunately, a colleague at work (who has considerable biological expertise) sized up my capabilities and suggested a fitting challenge.

Arms: 2 (includes hands with fingers and opposable thumb)
Legs: 2
Brain: 1 (but it’s old and not as fast as younger brains – a scientific fact relayed to me by my younger colleague)
Offensive/Defensive capabilities (natural): Two eyes, a few canine teeth, fists, scratching or prying fingernails and three high school wrestling moves (one of which is an illegal head butt).
Offensive/Defensive capabilities (artificial): Clam gun, hip-waders, shovels, pot of boiling water, sharp knives and frying pans.

Arms: none
Legs: none (but does have one foot)
Brain: none
Offensive/Defensive capabilities (natural): Can spit sandy water a foot or two, protective shell, good digger.
Offensive/Defensive capabilities (artificial): none

In this image, a clam taunts me.

Clam Slaughter Long Beach WA

Like some macabre gold rush, clam prospectors rape the beach of its natural resources. (…from the point of view of a clam anyway)

Through our species’ ability to share information, I am soon able to mimic my colleague’s effective clam capturing technique.

The ocean tries to cover the retreat of those few clams that still survive.

My colleague’s husband demonstrates that he is way smarter than a clam.

This human let his guard down for only an instant, and his clams made a break for it. He wrestles a handful back into their container.

The beach is pock-marked with craters, as if it has been bombed by a formation of Stratofortresses.

Then the real horror begins.

On the way back to Portland, I visit Cape Disappointment and its lighthouse.

The mouth of the Columbia – about seven miles across – and treacherous.

Dead Man’s Cove

Waikiki Beach

From the North Head Lighthouse, I watch a freighter cross the Columbia River Bar.

North Head Lighthouse


  1. judging by the amount of fawning north Head lighthouse photos its probably too late to tell you not to go "hip wading" with what was designed as a "CLAM" gun into a deadman's "cove". sicko.

  2. Haha! I knew the "old slow brain" comment would come back to bite me. Did you notice someone watching you as we boiled the clams? Look at the pic with the clams in the strainer-- That fish oven mitt knows what you're doing!!!
    Poor Shakey, the guy lost half his clams twice while trying to count them!



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