Thursday, December 22, 2011

Called in a ? today

Went out to try a little predator calling today.  On the first stand I saw something come down the hill and stop right at the edge of the brush line.  I couldn’t be certain, but I think it was a bobcat.  I had a video camera set up on a tripod, and I looked down to turn it on.  When I looked back up the critter was gone.  I tried calling awhile longer but it wouldn’t come back.  We were on bare frozen ground, but I turned my dog loose anyway to see if he might get lucky.  He was gone quite awhile, but eventually came back.  All he got out of the deal was exercise.  It’s really not difficult to call predators, and not much harder to shoot them.  Catching them on video is what is hard!

I went back to the truck and drove up the road toward another good spot.  On the way I saw these tracks in a bit of snow.

Lion tracks

Lion track

Yep, the bobcat’s larger cousin with a long tail. – Cougar.

I set up for another try at calling, but drew a blank there.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Uh oh - but I got lucky

It’s been awhile since I’ve been out due to bad weather and chores around home, but I set out this morning to try a little predator calling.  I hiked up a long ridge that seems to be getting steeper all the time, but I have a good spot to call from up there.  I got my stand all set up and reached in the side pocket of my back pack for the remote control unit of my electronic call.  I came up empty!  Huh?  I searched the other pockets of the pack with no better luck.  I use a mouth blown call as much as I do electronics, and for the life of me I couldn’t remember where I had used the e-caller last.  I racked my brain and narrowed it down to 1 of 2 possible places, both miles apart.  I still couldn’t be sure which place I had used the call last, and aside from that we have had a lot of rain since then.  I had my doubts if the small electrical unit would still be in working order even if I was lucky enough to find it.  There was one other possibility.  The weather had been colder, and I was sure I had worn a heaver coat on at least one of those stands.  It was possible that I had put the remote unit in the pocket of that coat.  Not my usual routine, but it was possible.

At any rate, that wasn’t helping me now.  I had climbed all the way up this ridge, so I decided to go ahead with the stand and see what developed.  I hung the caller on a low limb of a tree and set it to play one continuous sound, then settled back to watch.  This is all that showed up.

 That’s a Stellar’s blue jay, one of the most frequent visitors to a predator call.  Actually there were several of them, but this is the only one that sat still in one place long enough to shoot a few seconds of video.  The sound you hear coming from the electronic call is that of an injured woodpecker.  It’s a good sound to play for fox and bobcat, but jays will come to almost anything.

After walking back to the truck I ran Bear up the road for a little exercise, then parked at a nice spot to eat lunch.  The missing remote for the e-caller was still bothering me, so I decided to call it a day and headed for home.  When I walked in the house the first thing I did was get my heavy coat out of the closet and go through the pockets.  There was the remote, tucked into the inside pocket.  I put it back in the side pocket of my back pack where it should have been all the time!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A first!

Over the years I’ve lost chickens and pigeons to just about everything that walks or flies.  Hawks, owls, coyotes, fox, bobcats, skunks, etc, etc.  Know what just made a pass through here and tried to catch a pigeon?  A Bald Eagle, I kid you not!  I got a real good look at it.  It wasn’t quick enough and didn’t catch a bird. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tracks and scat

Yesterday I went out to do a little predator calling.  All I managed to call up was a flock of blue jays, but I took a couple of photos that may be of interest to those readers who are learning to read tracks and other sign.

Hiking up an old road to a calling stand, I saw this single track where an animal had stepped in a muddy spot while it was still soft enough to hold a track.


Just that single track, but it was enough to identify the animal.  The print of the heel doesn’t show up well, but the placement of the toes screams “cat”.  In this case a bobcat.

Bobcat track 2

A little farther along I saw this bit of scat.

Gray fox scat

Bobcat scat is segmented, commonly called the Tootsie Roll effect; not present here.  Also, this scat contains bits of manzanita berries; very uncatlike.  It is gray fox scat.

Gray fox scat 2

Both animals were long gone from this spot as the sign was old, but there was always the possibility they might be back in the neighborhood; so I went ahead as planned and tried calling for awhile.  Nothing showed up but those jay birds, but I’ll be back there again.  Both animals are territorial, and it’s a matter of being lucky enough to be there at the right time when they are within hearing distance of the call, and hungry enough to investigate the chance of a free meal.       

Monday, October 24, 2011

Home from the hills

This is the sort of neighborhood I live in.  Cattle from a neighboring ranch coming home from summer range in the mountains.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Still trying

Boy, this is a real hassle! This computer, or at least the browsers, don’t seem to like Blogspot at all. I have to use one browser to post to my blog, and another to read it. Sure hope I can find a solution.

Anyhow, here’s another video I took a little while back, this time from my channel on YouTube if the browsers will cooperate with me. Still trying different settings in the editing software, looking for the best resolution.


It's been a long hard fight with a short stick, but I'm finally getting up to speed with this new computer. The old laptop is history, and it's been a problem getting my old cameras up and running with this new machine. As expected, the photo editting program that came installed in the new computer is garbage. I was able to find one online that I can live with without spending a fortune. Getting my video camera hooked up was another matter.
The new computer came without a video capture card (firewire). It seems the newer cameras use a USB connection which my older camera doesn't have. I had to buy one seperately (firewire card) and get it installed with a little help. The computer came with a video editting program installed, but it is designed for the newer cameras and requires that USB connection. I'm experimenting with the editting program that came with the firewire card, and time will tell if I need to purchase a better one. At any rate, I'm trying different settings to ring the best possible resolution out of the equipment I presently own. I've come to the conclusion that the tack sharp videos that I see on YouTube must be taken with one of the newer HD cameras. I'm not ready to make that leap yet. So for better or worse, here is some video that I shot around one of my camps this past summer.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm back.....

If anyone wonders where I’ve been, or why I haven’t been posting much lately, I have a couple of pretty fair excuses. I have a very sick computer here that needs to be replaced. Besides some other serious problems, despite running 2 different editing programs I am unable to edit or upload any video. Also, I was away and camped in the mountains for awhile. I shot some video while away, but am unable to do anything with it until a new computer finds its way to my desk. That will have to wait a little longer. The mountains are still calling.

I did manage to grab some still shots from the video using a feature of PhotoBucket. The quality isn’t to great, but it’s the best I can do for now.



At the time I shot this video, I thought all of these deer were does. It wasn't until I played the video back that I realized this one is a little buck.


That's the best I can do with what I've got. If this computer doesn't die completely I can still get online and read some blogs, send and receive e-mail, etc. If I disappear again for what seems an undue length of time, either the computer went belly up or I am in the mountain; or both.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Hammock update

Awhile back I made a post about my first impressions of using a hammock. I’ll preface a little by repeating why I was interested in a hammock in the first place. I’m an old guy, and have been fighting back problems for more years than I care to remember. I haven’t slept on the ground in years, and have no intention of ever doing so again if it can possibly be avoided. My back packing days are far behind me, so weight and bulk are not a problem. My standard camp outfit includes an army style cot and a foam pad. Even when I packed and camped with horses and mules, I took along a small folding cot. These days I’m reduced to truck camping, so I can really take along anything I want to. I’ve been reading glowing accounts by people who camp and sleep in hammocks about the comfort a hammock provides, ESPECIALLY FOR PEOPLE WITH BAD BACKS. Since comfort is the name of the game as far as I am concerned, I just had to give it a try.

My last post on this subject recounts my purchase of an ENO Double Nest hammock. I set it up between a couple of trees in my back yard, and likewise up on the hill behind my house a few times. Although I never have actually slept in it, in truth I never could really get comfortable in it. Fast forward to the present.

I just spent the last 2 nights sleeping, or trying to, in a full blown Brazilian hammock. I did manage to sleep, at least off and on, but still woke up with the same old back ache I was trying to avoid. About 4:00 AM this morning I finally gave it up and went to bed. The real one; the one in my bedroom. I finally woke up again at about 10:30 AM. Did my back ache? Yep, same as always; but I sure caught up on the sleep I had missed the previous 2 nights!

Hammocks may be fine for lounging around camp, or even the occasional cat nap; but when I leave for camp in the near future you can bet my old dependable cot will go with me. I’ll take the ENO along, and if there are a couple of convenient trees handy I’ll even hang it up; but when it’s time to go to bed at night I’ll be on my cot. I’ll leave the joys of hammock sleeping to someone else. It’s not for me!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dog Bless You

This is for the dog people who also have FaceBook; check this out.

Help a rescue dog find a home, and help a Vet with PTSD at the same time. All you have to do is click their "Like" button. For every 5,000 "Likes", up until July 4th, they will donate a companion or service dog to a Vet with PTSD. They will donate up to 100 dogs, and July 4th isn't far away.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New additions

A mama hen showed up this morning with new chicks.

Hen and chicks

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ready or not.....

It looks like summer is here. The last few days the temps have been in the 80’s and climbing higher every day. Didn’t quite make 90 today, but it came close.

I took time off from chores today and took Sis and the dogs out to play. It was already hot by the time I rode away from the truck and trailer, so I kept the ride short and didn’t stray to far from water.

The creeks are running high and swift from melting snow in the high country.

Shackleford Creek 2

You can’t see much of the falls through the trees, but it is running nothing but white water.

Shackleford Falls

Almost back to the truck, and we passed an irrigation pond where the dogs could water up and cool off.

Evan's pond

I was in town a few days ago and stopped at the Forest Service office to inquire about road and trail conditions. No roads have been graded yet, but the 2 trail heads closest to me are at least accessible. No trail crews have been out. As usual the FS is crying about lack of funds, and I was informed that there my not be any trail crews this year. Be prepared to clear trail yourself in the National Forest.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bear trouble

This post is a little different from my usual; funny in some ways, but not so much to the person involved I suppose. Living out here in the country as I do, encounters with the local wildlife are to be expected. If you have problems it is generally expected that you will handle them yourself. That’s the theory anyway, although it doesn’t always work out that way. It all started a few days ago.

I received an email from a neighbor up on the hill behind me. A bear had broken into her chicken coop a couple of times and killed some chickens. My neighbor moved here from the city a number of years ago, and she is now a County Supervisor. She can be expected to do things by the book. She called the Federal Trapper who’s job it is to take care of problem animals like coyotes, cougars, and bears which prey on domestic livestock. That usually means on ranches where they are suffering losses of cattle and sheep, not a few chickens in a backyard coop; but my neighbor is a County Supervisor, right?

The trapper came out that afternoon and set a large cage type bear trap. He told my neighbor that if the bear came back again that night, and failed to get caught in the trap, he would be back in the morning with dogs. Long story short, that is what happened. The trapper’s dogs treed the bear and it was dispatched. End of story; but not quite.

I heard from my neighbor again this morning. She has a couple of house dogs, just mixed breed pets. Last night the dogs started raising a fuss, and my neighbor looked out the window in the direction of the chicken coop. There was a bear on her porch looking back at her from about 2 feet away! She hit the panic button, took the dogs with her, and hid in the bedroom where she called the trapper again. When the trapper had killed the first bear he had left the trap at her place, but he had shut it down. Since this bear hadn’t killed any chickens, he couldn’t do much about it, and it is doubtful if he could get a permit to take another bear from there anyway. He came out again this morning and prowled around the neighborhood a little bit. Come to find out, another neighbor close by had shot an old horse and hadn’t gotten around to burying it yet. In effect, a built in bait pile! He told my neighbor that she can expect to have bears scavenging around for awhile. Fun times!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trial run

My new ENO hammock arrived a couple of days ago and I wanted to set it up just to get the “hang” of it, so to speak. Let me preface by saying that my main interest in a hammock is the comfort many “swingers” claim they provide. Especially those with bad backs! I’ve had chronic back problems for years, and it has been many years since I have slept on the ground. My standard camp setup is an army style cot with a foam pad. My back packing days are far behind me, so I am not concerned with weight or bulk. Even back when I was packing with horses and mules, I took along a light weight folding camp cot. The claims by hammock users of the superior comfort they provide, without a sore back in the morning, lured me on; and I decided I just had to give it a try. So new hammock in hand, I loaded the dogs in the pickup and took a drive up the mountain behind my house.

ENO hammock

There was no threat of rain, but I put up a tarp anyway for the shade it provided. Hanging the hammock between a couple of trees was a simple matter. I put a Thermarest pad in it just as if I was actually camping, and even tossed in a sleeping bag.

First impressions:

I bought the Doublenest model, and I’m glad I did. It provides some wiggle room for a single person. If 2 people actually use one of these I assume they must be VERY close friends who like to cuddle. I’ve never used a mosquito net so I see no reason why I should suddenly need a hammock with a built in net.

The only way I could keep the sleeping pad from sliding out the end was to tie it to the carabiner behind my head using the straps at the end of the pad.

A pillow is necessary, at least for me.

Could I sleep comfortably on my back in this hammock? Not a chance; but then I don’t normally sleep on my back.

Can I lay on my side in this hammock? Well sort of.

Could I sleep comfortably like this? Remains to be seen.

Right now I have mixed impressions. I suspect there may be a learning curve to sleeping in a hammock, but I’ll give it a good honest try later this summer when I start doing some serious camping. Even so, I can see where it might be a handy item to have along just for lounging around in a camp during the day. In fact it folds up so small that I might just leave it in the truck all the time, in case I want to hang out in a shady spot through the middle of the day. It only takes a couple of minutes to sling it between trees.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The bears are back

It’s been ages since I posted anything here, mainly because I didn’t feel I had much worth talking about. Things didn’t work out exactly the way I had planned this winter and I didn’t get out as much as I usually do. Hopefully things are about to change.

Yesterday was a pretty nice day weather wise, so I took a break from spring chores and took the dogs out on the mountain behind my house for some much needed exercise. I let them run ahead of the pickup until I thought they had enough, and was about to stop for lunch when I saw a pile of bear scat on the side of the road. The first I have seen this spring. I set up a calling stand nearby, but nothing showed up. If this crazy weather we have been having will settle down so I can get a better handle on the chores that have built up around home, I hope to be getting out a lot more.