All Riled Up

Whew! What a day, week, month, fresh new year. Freakin’ incredible!

Information’s been flying at me like angry white-faced hornets, all of it interrelated, interesting, dynamic and highly contagious. I told my wife the other day that all the details bombarding me have created such a bizarre, glistening labyrinth that I fear I’m going to at any moment awaken and realize it’s all been a wild dream. If it’s all accurate, I will probably have to take this discussion out of the playpen and into a big-boy section of the newspaper. No lie. But it must wait for another day, another week. I’ve got other items to deal with today, easy subjects (I won’t say simple), starting with old friend Joe Judd of Shelburne, soon to be the recipient of a prestigious award from the National Wild Turkey Federation, which he’s been affiliated with for decades; also, a little Vermont deer-hunting caper good ole boys who still peruse this space may find to their liking.

But first a quick rundown of my local travels, home visitors, emails, readings, telephone conversations and what have you. It’s amazing, all focused on ritualistic Native landscapes, sacred stones, archaeology, anthropology and an alleged, deeply-ingrained bureaucratic ivory-tower mentality that’s not at all helpful when attempting to piece together a fascinating puzzle of random clues strewn about the region. In the past week I’ve toured Montague, Turners Falls, Gill, Millers Falls, Wendell, New Salem, Shutesbury, Leverett, Colrain, Shelburne, Ashfield and Conway, attended a Connecticut River dam re-licensing meeting run by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, received a written bombshell of damning accusations against professional archaeologists overseeing ongoing and past Pioneer Valley excavations, entertained officers from respected archaeological organizations who echo many of the letter-writer’s criticisms, all the while fielding several long, detailed phone conversations concerning the above topics, all related, all alluring. Fact is I know much more than I’ve been writing, and there are supportive documents for back up; more observations and opinions arriving daily, very much connected, entangled and, yes, fascinating indeed. But that’s all I’ve got for now. Lots of time-consuming legwork remains. I want to give the authorities an opportunity to respond to the criticism aimed at them but suspect there will be many “no comments” and intimidating threats. Yeah, right! Always a great way to hold the weak-willed at bay. Count me out. I want answers and pray that by prying them out into the open I will eventually clear a path to future interactive discovery by a diverse crowd stitched together by a common thread of intellectual curiosity, all with the common goal of uncovering unwritten history that government and church officials have tried quite successfully for centuries to obliterate. These folks are still determined to complete the destruction of sacred grounds surrounding Peskeomskut, where they want to bulldoze what little may be left on the northwest corner, a site to which struggling geriatric indigenous tribesmen and women pathetically trudged through corn snow to die and be buried at a special place. But enough of that for now. Back to Mr. Judd, an old friend who more than 30 years ago introduced me to the sound of daybreak turkey gobbles on a bucolic hillside now within earshot of my residence.

A semi-retired insurance man and longtime Shelburne selectmen, Judd will be honored as one of five Roger Latham Award winners at the NWTF’s 37th annual National Convention and Sport Show on Feb. 14-17 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN. The awards, which will be presented during the Feb. 16 banquet, recognize outstanding volunteers who have given their personal time, energy and money to wild-turkey conservation and management. Judd is known to some local folks as the host of “On The Ridge,” which airs on local TV stations like GCTV and Falls Cablevision, and also as a longtime columnist for the likes of the West County News and currently the Shelburne Falls Independent. Other folks will know him from various NWTF seminars and events sponsored by the local Pioneer Valley Longbeards chapter, which Judd had a hand in founding.

“It was great being nominated,” said Judd in correspondence with another man he forwarded to me. “I will always be grateful and humbled for this opportunity.”

Moving to southern Vermont, how about that rascal James Smith, 47, from the Vermont/Massachusetts border town of Stamford, which touches the Monroe and Clarksburg lines, sitting between the Vermont towns of Whitingham and of Pownal? Sounds like this determined hunter got so caught up in the chase of a humongous Green Mountain State racker that he got disoriented and, lo and behold, shot it a day after the season ended. Yes, that’s right, the man was caught dragging his trophy buck out of the woods on Nov. 26, 2012, and will be prosecuted for “taking deer in closed season.” I guess the infraction is worth mentioning because, had he not shot the monster buck, it may well have been available to Massachusetts hunters during the shotgun and/or blackpowder seasons. With the case due to be heard in Bennington District Court next week, I was unable to get the weight of the 10-pointer, but it probably tipped the scales at way over 200 pounds. Described in a Vermont Fish & Wildlife press release as “one of the largest deer taken in Vermont in more than 20 years,” its antlers were impressive indeed, grossing out at 165 2/8 Boone and Crockett.

Back for a moment to the ongoing information bombardment I’ve thus far endured and survived; yes, you guessed it, cougars are back in my inbox, with several photos coming my way from a Pioneer Valley organization committed to searching for the four-legged felines. One photo suspected of being a spotted cougar kitten was not convincing to my eyes, which immediately screamed “bobcat,” or maybe even Canada lynx, which are acknowledged by New Hampshire Fish & Game to be back in the Granite State. Imagine that! This cougar chase just won’t die like that 170-pound mountain lion that met it’s maker on a coastal Connecticut highway less than an hour northeast of the Big Apple.

Reading? Oh yeah, just a quick rundown: more on Indian myth and folklore, a lot by this Leverett author who’s reached out to me about stone structures and much, much more, some of it wild indeed. I have now read four of his books (the latest “Our Human Destiny,” a humdinger) about some pretty new-age concepts that are new to me and will need further research. Plus, how about this one: just Tuesday night an email arrived from local stone-structures researcher/lecturer/writer Jim Vieira. I expect to sit down and chat someday soon. Why not? I think he wants to make his case for a giant race of North American human beings in ancient times, back when the plants and animals were also large. I’m not sure I really want to go there right now with so many other topics on my plate. I’m focused on Pioneer Valley archaeology, much of it very local, and a certain wooded lot in New Salem that I visited Friday and must revisit. I am still in awe of what I saw or didn’t see, and must say I have not seen enough.

I’m beginning to think I may be getting in over my head. No problem. I’ve always been a strong swimmer with no fear of deep, turbulent water.

Off I go. See you next week.

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