"A Sand County Almanac"

"THERE ARE SOME WHO CAN LIVE WITHOUT WILD THINGS AND SOME WHO CANNOT."
"FOR US IN THE MINORITY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GEESE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TELEVISION.".....Aldo Leopold

"THE TABLES TURNED"

"COME FORTH INTO THE LIGHT OF THINGS. LET NATURE BE YOUR TEACHER"....William Wordsworth


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Reflections on the Wild Turkey...

I am old enough to remember when wild turkeys did not exist in this area.  Each fall the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would release some pen raised turkeys in the Frederick city watershed so hunters could attempt to bag one for Thanksgiving.  These birds were as wild as the chickens my grandmother used to raise.  Between the hunters and the natural predators, they rarely survived their first winter...



In the 1970s technology evolved that made it possible to trap truly wild turkeys from areas where they were plentiful and release them where they had not been seen in many decades...



 
 The newly transplanted wild turkeys thrived.  They were protected from hunting until their numbers grew to such a level that limited hunting would not decimate their numbers...


 
I have always enjoyed seeing wild turkeys. When I was able to climb the local hills in pursuit of them hunting season was a much anticipated time...
 
 
Now, I only hunt them with my camera. I still thrill to hear the gobble call of the male in the spring...
 

 
I never pass on the opportunity to photograph wild turkeys, no matter the season or location...
 

 
All of the photos in this post were taken in Frederick County.  They are visible evidence of the success of the trap and transplant program in Maryland.  Much of the credit for its success belongs to Joe Shugars who spearheaded the efforts by the DNR to reestablish wild turkeys throughout the state...
 



Even in our suburban neighborhood, wild turkeys are frequently seen individually and in flocks of up to a dozen birds...


 
Don't be fooled, these are not the same birds found in your local grocery stores. About the only thing they have in common is their name.
 
I hope you all have a happy "turkey day" and thanks for visiting.
 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Midway Through The Rut

Yesterday was a great time to be in the woods if you wanted to see bucks on the move.  The chasing phase is mostly over, with only spike and button bucks still trying to pursue does.  For the most part, the mature bucks are either with a doe on the verge of being ready to breed, or they are calmly walking through the woods sniffing out does that have not been bred yet...

 
 
This buck, both above and below, is the double main beam that I have posted earlier. There is a second main beam that is plainly visible in the next photo as he lifts his head to sniff and lick a branch...
 


The rut takes a heavy toll on the bucks.  They typically lose a significant amount of weight, often break antlers, and suffer other more serious injuries.  The next two photos are of bucks with broken antlers, probably occurring when they clashed with a rival over a doe...
 
 
 
This buck has lost his right eye, almost certainly when the antler tine of another buck damaged it while fighting...
 
 
Sadly, we have entered the window (October through March) specified by the National Park Service for eliminating these deer.  If you wish to see living mature whitetail bucks I must stress the  importance of doing it now, before the sharpshooters begin their grisly task.
 
Thanks for visiting, be well, and stop back soon.
 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Pair Of Raccoons

Many people view raccoons as a nuisance and it's easy to understand why.  Their proclivity for getting into trash and pet food, digging under buildings, raiding chicken coops and other undesirable activities do not exactly endear them to the humans affected. 
Due to the presence of our dogs we are not bothered by their mischief, so I can appreciate them for the energetic and interesting creatures they are...


I was concentrating on watching for deer and did not notice the raccoons until they were close to my parking place.  As soon as I emerged to take a photo they scrambled up the nearest tree...



Raccoons are trapped for their fur, hunted for sport and even sought as a food item in many parts of the country.  When growing up in rural West Virginia I enjoyed many meals that included raccoon as the main dish.  Today, I enjoy them as subjects for photography only.
I hope you enjoy them, too. 

Northern Harrier

On a recent morning I noticed that the birds and squirrels usually seen at the battlefield were unusually scarce.  The grey squirrel that I did see was noticeably agitated...



A little way down the lane I spotted the cause of his agitation...

 
While the squirrel escaped the notice of the northern harrier some unlucky rodent fell prey to its silent attack...

 
 
Fortunately, I was able to get the fast flying hawk in the viewfinder in time to take the following images...
 
 



The rolling hill between my location and the harrier prevented a view of the mouse or vole that he pounced on...

 
Observing raptors is a thrilling experience and helps to fill the time when the deer sightings are few and far between.
 
 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Mid-November Rut

One of the most interesting things about November is that one can never know what might be seen, or in this case, almost not seen...


The excitement of observing a group of does, running from the woods into a field, not knowing if they are being chased by a trophy buck...



or an overly ambitious young spike buck...



I wonder if the term "chasing tail" got its start during the rut...


With all of the chasing that takes place, some of the bucks have to get lucky once in a while...

 

I watched this pair mate five times before they moved on...


Many spend years in the outdoors and never get to witness this private moment.

As always, thanks for visiting, be well, and stop back soon.

Foggy Rutting Morning

Fog can make the familiar appear surreal.  The same spots where I have waited for wildlife to appear, day after day, seem mysterious and stir my imagination as I wait once more...



Suddenly, silently, a buck appears only a few yards away...



Fog arrives in differing densities, sometimes too thick to see through; at other times thin enough to spot a fox squirrel...


Fog easily frustrates the photographer as well as the hunter. Fortunately, it does not prevent the deer from seeking a mate at this special time of year...

 



Thanks for visiting and sharing a foggy morning with me. Don't forget to come back soon.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

EARLY NOVEMBER RUT...

I came across this confused fawn earlier this week.  I think its mother must be near estrus and is likely being pursued by a buck.  This leaves the fawn wondering what happened and wandering around alone for a while.  Once the doe breeds she will welcome the fawn back into the family group, so it won't be alone too long...

 
Almost every early morning, and late evening, outing results in buck sightings at this time of the year.  Many follow fence rows hoping to find a doe bedded down, or the scent of one that recently passed by...
 

 

 

When I came upon this buck he was standing near a doe and he did not seem the least bit bothered that I was only 20 yards from him...
 

A small movement to the side allowed a less obstructed view...

 
On another day I photographed a different buck checking the air currents for scent...
 


He quickly set out with his nose to the ground in search of a willing doe...


Larger bucks pretty much wander wherever they wish at this time of the year...


But they don't tolerate the presence of smaller bucks if a doe is nearby...
 
 
The buck in the next three photos is one of the largest I have seen on the battlefield this year.  He is distinctive in that his right antler sports a double main beam; something that I have never seen before on a live deer.  Damage to the growing antler tip in March or April can cause the main beam to separate into two shafts, one containing the traditional antler points and another which may or may not have antler points...



 
  I hope you aren't getting tired of all the deer photos because I am not yet tired of taking them.
 
Thanks for visiting, be well, and stop back soon.