Friday, September 14, 2007

Bum luck!

A cool front has moved in here, and it sure is welcome after the run of hot weather we’ve been having. The archery hunting season closed here last Sunday, and the general deer/bear season will open tomorrow (Saturday). I wanted to get out with the dogs in this time between seasons, and this cooler weather made it perfect.

There are some old logging roads and skid trails that I want to check on, and see if they are passable with the horse. I know a couple of the old roads have become impassable to anything without wings due to washouts. Yesterday I loaded the mare in the trailer, took a couple of dogs along, and drove up the mountain to a place where I wanted to unload. An old road had been closed by the timber company that owns the land, and they had bulldozed a berm up to block the road. Sis went up and over it without a problem. There were a few down trees across the road, but nothing she couldn’t step over. Aside from a tight squeeze through some brush in one spot we had no trouble, and we made a nice loop back to the truck and trailer. Enough of a ride to make a good hunt, but not so much as to cripple up my old knees. Just about right. Saw a couple of old bear tracks, but nothing fresh. Feed is scarce in the mountains this year, and so is bear sign. I have a feeling that a lot of the bear are still up in the high country, but when they drop down there isn’t much to hold them here. They will probably just pass on through in search of better pickings.

Last night really cooled off in a big way, and this morning I awoke to an overcast sky. Even had a little sprinkle of rain while I poured down my morning dose of coffee. A perfect morning for predator calling. I loaded 2 dogs in the truck and drove to a couple of my better hot spots.

It was a short hike to the first stand. I tied Bear and Dove to a couple of small saplings, then set up my stool, and video camera on a tripod. The stool is becoming almost mandatory equipment for me, unless I am horseback of course. The little bit of added elevation, as opposed to sitting on the ground, gives me a better field of view and I can pan the camera much better. I know I’m going to like it even more this winter when the ground is wet or snow covered!

A few minutes into the stand, and I saw something move behind a bush; small, gray, and close to the ground. Could have been a gray fox or a squirrel. The color was right for either. It disappeared without ever moving out where I could get a good look at it, and aside from the usual gang of blue jays I saw nothing else on this stand.

I roaded the dogs for a little exercise, then set up another stand right on the side of the road and looking down an old fire break. I set up the stool and camera again, then placed an electronic call on the edge of the brush some distance down the fire break. I was back on my seat and a few minutes into the call when a fox started barking down in the brush. I switched on the camera just as a second fox came around the side of the hill directly below me and stopped behind a bush. I had my finger on the “go” button, but I couldn’t see much of the fox in the view finder. I was waiting for it to step out into the fire break where it would be in plain view.

Bear was under the camper shell in the back of the pickup, but Dove was up in the cab. She heard and saw the same things I did, and she couldn’t stand it any longer. She began to bark! Of course that blew the stand, so I turned her out knowing full well that she couldn’t run a fox under these dry conditions. She went looking anyway, but was soon back to me. Oh well, it feels like fall is right around the corner, and things will keep getting better and better; especially if we get some much needed rain. I’ll hole up for a few days now. Opening of deer season is a good time to stay at home.

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