Thursday, January 18, 2007

Photo fox hunt.

My good friend John came over this morning for a photo fox hunt. He’s been meaning to come over here ever since last fall when I went with him on a coyote calling expedition in his hunting grounds. He has plenty of coyotes over there, but hardly any fox.

I thought it was pretty chilly here this morning at 18 degrees, but he had me beat. He said it was 9 degrees at his place! Kind of frosty, but we warmed up hiking to a few of my good calling spots. Saw tracks made by several different fox in the snow, and one cougar track, but all a day or two old. The first three stands drew a blank, and we didn’t see so much as a blue jay. John set up a video camera on each stand, and I did the calling.

We ate lunch, discussed the situation, and decided to try one more place. While John got ready with the camera I walked across a small gully and hung an electric caller on the branch of a small oak tree. I walked back and sat down with two of my dogs, and just that quick a gray fox came trotting down the ridge to the call. Dove saw the fox but Sadie didn’t. I held off letting the dogs go to give John a chance to shoot some video. He got a little footage on tape, but not a lot. Cover was tight, and the fox didn’t stick around very long. As soon as I saw that there wasn’t going to be a chance for any more camera work I let the dogs go. Sadie never really got started good. Dove took the fox for a little run, but failed to tree it. Oh well, it was a good morning and fun to be out. I’ve got to get John started editing video with the computer so he can post some clips now and then.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The spook.

They say there is a nasty storm headed this way right out of the gulf of Alaska, so I wanted to get out with the dogs today before it arrives here. I had in mind hiking to one of my good calling spots, but I didn’t know if I could cross a creek that runs across the old logging road where I park the truck. The timber company has bulldozed a berm blocking the road to vehicles, so this is always a walking hunt. The creek was running higher than I cared to wade, so I put the truck in 4WD and drove across to the berm. I turned the dogs out there, got my day pack out of the truck, and started walking.

I had all 4 of the Airedales with me, and I let them run loose on the way to the stand. When I set up to call I tied Bear and old Kelly to a couple of trees and left Dove and Sadie loose. They know the procedure, and they laid down next to me like they are supposed to.

Down the hill several yards there was an old log laying on the ground in the timber. I had been calling with a mouth blown call for several minutes when I noticed a spot of brown just behind that log. It was about the right shape, and looked suspiciously like a bobcat’s head, as if a cat was crouched behind the log and peeking over it. I was wearing my glasses, and I gave that spot a good hard look. It was one of those spooks that frequently turn up on calling stands. Had it been there all along and I had just now noticed it; or had a bobcat or other predator just slipped in? For awhile I imagined I could see a pair of ears on that round spot, but it remained perfectly motionless. I decided it was just a brown piece of wood, and I went back to calling and scanning for incoming game.

Eventually my eyes were drawn back to that brown spot. No ears! I decided my old eyes were just playing tricks on me. I looked away for a minute, and when I looked back the ears were there again. Still no movement. It had to be a piece of wood. About then Dove keyed in on it, and she was up and running with Sadie right behind her. No doubt now. The cat was up and running too, and I unsnapped Bear and Kelly.

It was a pretty short race. The cat had the old choice of treeing or being caught on the ground. It got it’s little bob tail up a tree! I got the camera out of the day pack and shot some video. You can CLICK HERE for a link to a short clip. 3.4 mb download. The price of cat hides is way up, and it seems everyone is after them. This appeared to be a female, certainly not a large one, and poor color as cats go. As hard as they are to come by this year, the last thing I wanted to do was kill a female; so I put the camera away, called the dogs, and headed back toward the truck. I figure the hide was worth more to the cat than it is to me, and I might run her again some other day.