22 July 2019

Three Months Later

I've been out of the blogging loop for half a year now, and really only in the loop intermittently for the six months prior to that. I still have a lot of interest in my collection and I've been adding to it on a regular basis, but I have a hard time getting myself to take pictures and write posts. For the last few months I also pretty much stopped reading other card blogs. There's been a lot going on and I can't keep up with everything.

I've documented some of my struggles with depression, anxiety, my MBA program, life and work here in my sporadic recent posts so I won't rehash them too much. Collecting cards is still fun. Collecting artwork is still fun. Tweeting about my cards is still fun. Blogging about my cards is hard because it takes a lot of effort to turn out something that feels like more than a show-off post.

So without further ado, here is some of the stuff I've been up to and some of the cards I've been gathering over the last little bit.

It was pretty fun to get this Brian DeGuire sketch card of Princess Leia. I like his work and I've picked up a couple of his sketches, but until I won this card I hadn't been able to land a Leia in his style. This card is perfect.

DC's Power Girl is the focus of my other major art collection, and I was able to land another couple of artists whose work I enjoy featuring Superman's cousin from Krypton. On the left is a PSC by John Monserrat, and on the right is a sketch card from Cryptozoic's Superman: The Legend set by Cami Fortuna.

I also snagged a couple more wrestling autographs for my collection. I am pretty sure I didn't have Nikki Cross or Lita represented in my collection yet, so I went ahead and got these two signed cards. I've gotten to where I really don't know what I have and what I don't anymore, so I almost expect to find duplicates in my collection if I ever sort it. Over the last couple of days I've been putting all of my cards into 5000-count boxes and putting all of the 5000-count boxes in one spot, which should make it easier to restart the sorting process that I've failed to complete many times. I think I'm up to 25 boxes or so, which by my estimate is roughly 110,000 cards. I don't think each box contains a full 5,000 cards, especially the boxes with a lot of top loaders in them.

I know that I have a Tomb Raider relic already, but I didn't have this particular Tomb Raider relic yet. What I really want is a Tomb Raider autograph, but those are a pricey proposition. Maybe someday I will be able to get one.

I spent the second half of June in South Africa with my dad and his uncle. My dad is on the left, I'm in the middle, and his uncle is on the right. It was a hunting trip for my dad's retirement. I've seen some talk about trophy hunting among card bloggers on Twitter recently, so I hope that posting about this won't cause me to lose friends. I haven't posted any hunting pictures here, so you can scroll down and read without worrying about seeing that.

I tried to take a picture of the giraffe drinking water, but I was too slow. This still turned out to be a good picture.
I was conflicted about the idea of hunting animals in Africa when my dad invited me along. I like animals a lot and trophy hunting seems kind of wasteful and cruel. I've never done much hunting before, with my previous hunting experience limited to discharging a shotgun in the general direction of a duck when I was a teenager.

I have killed animals, though, because we had a farm and we killed rabbits and chickens for meat and I had to kill a handful of sick animals during times when my dad wasn't around to do it.

This ostrich hung around the gate all the time. She finally got into the compound and visited my room.
I had to study the industry before I agreed to go hunting. While there are bad apples out there, the majority of the hunting outfitters in Africa are quite ethical, and my reading and my experiences while in South Africa convinced me that in the current political and social climate, managed hunting essential to the conservation of African wildlife.

A good outfitter will have all of the permits for all of the animals hunted, they will carefully manage the animal populations on the land they hunt, and they will make sure that you are hunting for older animals who are past the end of their breeding life. The trophy fees on these animals keep the outfitter in business, which acts as an incentive to keep the land set aside for game animals rather than converting it to agriculture, industry, or residential use.

In Africa the animals are only as valuable as their meat, which is not all that valuable when you consider that it is easier to raise domesticated creatures on that land. The trophy fees that hunters pay ensure that the habitat remains set aside for both game animals and the other non-huntable species that occupy that land. I hunted on hundreds of thousands of acres that were set aside specifically because of the hunting industry.

The meat from animals hunted for trophies gets used. Some is used to feed the hunters in camp, some is sold at markets, and some is donated locally. During our trip we spent one day hunting Impala on a tribal concession specifically for meat that the tribe had requested from our outfitter. Although hunters do take the trophies home, they don't waste the meat.

The economics of it also help to grow the populations of less-numerous species. On one piece of land that we hunted we spent a lot of time talking to the land owners about their business operation. One particular antelope species, the Sable, had been driven almost to extinction by hunting and habitat loss. In response, the trophy fees for Sable went through the roof. A lot of outfitters and game ranchers sought out Sable for their land specifically because the trophy fees were so high, and the Sable population has rebounded. The land owners we talked to had been able to place 3 Sable bulls on their property, and when those three bulls are hunted the trophy fees will allow them to place a breeding herd on their property, which can then increase in size over time. Without managed hunting I think the Sable would have just been hunted out, but the value of trophy fees convinced the land owners and managers to ensure that the population was protected. And the large trophy fees for the Sable also ensure that the land will be set aside for the Impala, Wildebeest, Giraffes, Zebras, and other species that also occupy the land.

A Giraffe and a herd of Zebra
I am not saying that everyone should hunt, because not everyone is inclined to that lifestyle. I just think that people think of hunting in Africa as being like Bison hunting in the American plains, with hunters out there blasting the species into oblivion. In countries without managed and controlled hunting it still is that way to a degree, but in countries like South Africa hunting is an important and essential component in conservation.

I don't think ecotourism can make up the difference, because I don't think that a photographer will be willing to pay the same prices that a hunter will, especially for some of the really common game that is the bread and butter of hunting in Africa (Impala, Warthog, Springbok, Kudu, Blue and Black Wildebeest, and similar). There were many times that my Professional Hunter pulled me off of an animal that we had stalked because it was too young and still had breeding years left in its life. I went out of my way to hunt only non-threatened species and to focus on shooting animals that had aged out of the breeding pool, and I think most hunters and outfitters do the same. That way our trophy fees go toward killing animals that are at or near the end of their lives anyway, but keep the land viable for the herds that are breeding and growing. To me, the evidence undeniably suggests that countries with legal and managed hunting show increases in game populations and land devoted to wildlife, while countries with hunting bans see their game populations decimated and pushed out in favor of other human interests.

I love Basset Hounds, and I was glad to meet Astro on one of the hunting properties.
There are some species I wouldn't hunt even if I had the money, like Rhino and Elephant, but I also know that those hunts are highly regulated and that a hunter who wants a Rhino will pay at least $200,000 to do so and an Elephant hunter will pay $50,000 or more. If those animals are hunted ethically at the end of their natural lives, that is a lot of money that can go toward preserving the land for the rest of the herds to live on.

I don't think that I am some kind of conservationist hero because I tried to hunt ethically and I believe that managed hunting is an important part of conservation, but I do think that the public vilifies hunters without getting the full story. There are plenty of bloodthirsty douchebags who hunt and give other hunters a bad name, just like you find in every group of people. I don't think all or even most hunters are that way, though, and I think most hunters truly care about the animals they kill and the land they hunt on. I probably am not going to change anyone's mind here, but I think there are often more sides to every story.

To get back to the cards, this Josh Reddick Superfractor popped up on eBay and I grabbed it up. I built a bit of a rainbow for this Bowman card a few years ago, and it was kind of cool to have the big card out of the bunch pop up long after I'd given up on seeing it.

Here are some more cards I pulled out of boxes of wrestling cards, which I've been opening a lot of lately. I go through phases, I suppose, and for the last little while I've been pretty big on wrestling stuff.

The really big pull from the wrestling cards was this Dana Brooke Kiss Card Autograph, which is a tough pull and a fun collectible. I would still like to get my hands on one of those Goldust Kiss Cards that Topps put out a while back.

And the biggest pull recently, and quite possibly the best pull of my life, goes to this Carrie Fisher autograph that I pulled from a box of Star Wars Galactic Files. It's the White parallel, numbered just # 3 / 5. I would be hard-pressed to think of a better card than this for my own personal collection, and to pull it out of a pack myself makes it even better.


  1. Did not know much about trophy hunting until this post. I never knew it helped to manage the population. The ostrich at your door is very cool.
    Congrats on the Carrie Fisher pull. That's quite a card!

    1. Hunting in the U.S. and in South Africa have a lot of similarities. Population management wouldn't be necessary if humans weren't encroaching on the animal's home ranges, but you can't really put that cat back in the bag.

      Some hunters will say that hunting in South Africa is a big part of the economy. That's not true. Hunting is a very small part of the South African economy, but hunting dollars are very influential in keeping land set aside for wildlife.

      It's a complicated topic, especially when you consider the emotional impact of killing individual animals versus the less emotional math of managing populations and land capacity.

      That Ostrich was a funny bird. The camp staff thought she might be a little senile, and that is what caused her to be obsessed with getting into the compound. Some of my favorite animals to watch were the Ostriches, the Warthogs, and the Black and Blue Wildebeest. The Gemsbok were majestic, especially when they started running.

  2. I know several people who enjoy hunting, but the closest I've come to doing that is fishing about fifteen years ago. Anyways... glad to see a post from you. Hope things are going well... and congratulations on that epic Fisher pull. That is f'n awesome!

    1. We did a lot of fishing, especially when I was younger and my dad was stationed in Alaska. Once I hit my teens we had moved to Idaho and were focused on building the family farm, so hunting and fishing fell by the wayside.

      I was pretty excited about the Carrie Fisher autograph. It was a big pull. I never thought I'd be lucky enough to pull one of her signatures from a pack.

  3. I'm not into hunting myself, but I enjoyed your post - very informative! Also, congrats on the Carrie Fisher auto!

    1. Hunting has never really been my thing, either, but now that I've done it I understand the allure. The successes and failures of hunting take you through a full range of emotions. I was really excited about the Carrie Fisher pull. I'd been dreaming of a pack-pulled Fisher autograph since I started opening Star Wars packs.

  4. I guess one could say that the blog has been RAZurrected :)

    Africa? That had to be a long flight! I'm not big on hunting, so I'm glad that you were able to refrain from showing any animals with their brains blown out. Even though I don't much care for it, I don't go out of my way to shame those that do, well, at least not most of the time. That ostrich photo is really great BTW, I can only imagine all of the neat things that you must've seen.

    I think you were destined to get that Carrie Fisher auto! 99% of the time when cards like that are gotten, they end up being listed on eBay within minutes, so it's nice to know too that someone pulled such a card and actually intends to keep it.

    1. It was a very long flight. South Africa is pretty much as far as you can get from Idaho. The actual furthest point on the globe from my house is in the ocean to the southeast of South Africa. There are terrible and destructive hunters who should be shamed, but I think most hunters have a great affinity for the land and the animals and work hard to hunt ethically.

      We did see a lot of really neat things in South Africa. I didn't take as many pictures as I should have, but I intentionally tried to keep the camera put away so I could focus on the experience.

      It was really neat to get the Carrie Fisher signature. The other hit in the box was a sketch card, so I thought I was going to get a manufactured patch or something as the second hit. That made it extra exciting when I saw the autograph in the pack.