Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘hunting season

Afternoon Survey

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After work yesterday, I took Delilah for a walk to survey the grounds for the first time since Wednesday morning’s snowfall. There is a combination of areas where the snow has melted in the sun and spots where most of the accumulation remains.

There is evidence the chickens are moving around in the woods but when I found them they were clustered beneath the coop, most of them perched on only one foot. There were two eggs in a nest box that were probably on the verge of freezing.

The back of the barn looks like we’ve hung fake icicles as decoration, but these are all real.

In the woods, we didn’t find any new evidence of buck activity, but there is still a big scrape on the ground along one of our trails that hint of a decent-sized set of antlers. Last week, Cyndie found a hoof print that was almost half the size of her boot, so maybe both came from the same big fellow.

There is enough snow remaining on the trail to make it easy to spot fresh tracks if we get any more activity. Someone has been parking across the road from us and bowhunting in our neighbor’s woods. It is highly likely that any deer moving across our property will also travel through those woods.

The gun season doesn’t start until the 23rd in Wisconsin this year, so we’ve got a couple of weeks before we start seeing blaze orange-clad hunters traipsing around the neighboring properties.

At that point, I intend to refrain from doing a lot of surveying of the far reaches of our property for a while.

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Written by johnwhays

November 8, 2019 at 7:00 am

Deer Season

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It is quiet this morning, meaning, there have been few gunshots echoing around us. Yesterday was the opening day of the deer hunting season and shots were heard with regularity.

Even though the majority of land around us is cultivated for crops, there remain a fair amount of forested lanes and steep slopes where deer herds tend to travel. The farming neighbors who surround us on every side all don the blaze orange head-to-toe uniform and ply the hunt.

It’s a bit nerve-wracking.

IMG_iP0992eI don’t mind them thinning the herds. The other main predator of deer seems to be cars and trucks, as the sight of dead deer by the side of the road is a daily spectacle. I recall that there was one in the road ditch of this property years ago when we came to visit in the weeks after our purchase offer was accepted.

The previous owners told us that one doe came up to the house and gave birth to her fawns in the nook by the front door. We did see a pair of deer in our yard frequently that first year after we moved in. Not so much anymore.

I figure it is a combination of our getting Delilah and the horses. We did add a trail through our woods, which actually opened up a new path for deer, but we subsequently began using it regularly for walking the perimeter with Delilah. The deer traffic became less conspicuous.

I’m sure they are still passing through. We just don’t see them as often.

DSCN4120eThe neighbors must still see them. They found a lot of reasons to shoot yesterday. Across the road from us, as I was returning up our driveway from the mailbox with Delilah, the neighbor-hunter group shouted a greeting, waved, and showed me they were successful on opening day.

For us, it means the horses are edgy, the dog is on high alert, and the nearby woods are alive with scanning eyes and booming firesticks, sunup to sundown. It is a brief anomaly in the sedate ambiance that usually prevails.

It is deer hunting season, and the hunt is on.

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Written by johnwhays

November 22, 2015 at 10:55 am

Time Again

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As predicted, this morning was warm enough that snow was sticky and melting. There was plenty of moisture in the air, but it wasn’t exactly foggy. There was something of a spooky feel to the ambiance of the ranch.

Delilah didn’t seem to care, as she pulled hard against her leash in a rush to get to the next scent that was always just beyond the one she just checked. The horses were out of the paddock, milling along the fence between the hay-field and the back pasture. They weren’t on the same side of the fence, which is nothing new.

Last night, Legacy was in the pasture and the other three were in the hay-field. This morning, Dezirea was alone in the hay-field.

Suddenly, a loud crack from a rifle echoed between the hills and the horses nervously adjusted their positions in response. I discovered that the pans of feed that I had set out last night were left untouched under the barn overhang.

A couple of the chestnuts had obviously been through the paddock to change their location, but apparently they didn’t bother to come up to the barn. It’s that time again. Deer hunting season started this morning at sunrise. Gun shots started last night. I guess they were making sure their guns worked.

More shots rang out. I’m not sure how far the sound carries, but it gives me the impression there are a lot of hunters in action in a relatively small area around us. How do they keep from shooting at each other, I wonder. And, are there really that many deer out and about right now?

If our horses are on alert, I expect the deer are just as keen to notice the sounds and would be inclined to make themselves even more scarce than usual.

I walked Delilah through the paddock toward the horses in the pasture by the round pen. Legacy responded to our presence and approached the closed gate between us. To accommodate their skittishness, I opened that gate to save them walking around to the one that we leave open. I guided them toward the hay feeder and then walked around to do the same for Dezirea from the hay-field.

More gun shots. The horses let the lure of the hay override their urge to flee. I wandered up to the barn and shook the feed pan, which initially startled their panic response, but then drew them up to eat, albeit in hurried fits of anxiety.

Delilah took full advantage of the all-she-could-eat-buffet of manure droppings that were reappearing within the melting snow, as I just stood calmly to assure the horses that they were safe. At the edge of the pine forest across the road from us, a lone figure in blaze orange appeared to be standing sentinel. His jacket must have been old and dirty, because when two figures appeared across the snowy field from him, their outfits outshone his to the point of looking electrically illuminated.

No sign of any hunting success. From the sound of all the shots being fired, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

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Written by johnwhays

November 22, 2014 at 10:26 am

Single Digits

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We received a bit of snow on Thursday night, and this morning temperatures are in the single digits. My usual ease with facing the extreme cold of winter has waned as I age, but I was pleased to find that adjustment came quickly for me, as I began clearing the driveway up by the house. In no time, I was removing my jacket and finding an easy balance of comfort in the cold, while involved in activity.

Sure, it feels cold if you just step out and stand still in the frigid air. What a great excuse to do something productive, or at least, entertaining!

IMG_3205eAfter I finished the driveway, I walked with Delilah down to the labyrinth to make tracks along the pathway in hopes of establishing the route in snow so it will remain obvious throughout the winter. It was a delightful experience to be the first one to trek through the snow, enjoying the rare opportunity to see where I have been, in contrast to the portion that lay ahead.

Delilah has a bit too much energy to be limited to staying on the path, so she wasn’t much help with tromping down the trail. Plus, the arrival of snow has ramped up her energy immensely, as she gleefully celebrates the white stuff that has turned her outdoor world into a whole new playground experience.

Unfortunately, today dawns with new restrictions for our animals, as the deer hunting season has begun, and the woods all around us will be filled with the sounds of gunshots. The unbridled romping will be severely constrained for the next two weeks.

Cyndie reported that this morning, the two elder horses of our herd were stoically standing posts facing in opposite directions and were barely willing to suspend their surveillance to partake in the morning feed. They sense that the predator/prey operation is underway.

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Written by johnwhays

November 23, 2013 at 9:57 am

Found It!

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Cyndie found the mouse that the cats killed. They put it in the toilet. We are very impressed that they knew the mouse was something that needed to be disposed of.

IMG_3201eMeanwhile, the horses have proved me wrong. I believe that I wrote about how often I find them lying down to rest in the afternoons, and that one of them always remains standing to keep watch. Yesterday, I looked up from my task to find that all four of them were on the ground at the same time. I guess they feel safe here. As I watched them, I noticed there was no traffic on our road and no activity underway in any of the fields or at the neighboring farms. It was wonderfully calm and quiet, even with the wind kicking up some fairly robust gusts every so often. I think their behavior is a reflection of the environment where they now find themselves living.

We are pretty happy with the place, too.

Now, the serenity is not without interruption. This time of year, there are an awful lot of gunshots spoiling the natural sound scape. Hunting seasons for a variety of animals start in September and run into December. The biggest hunt around here is definitely the deer season. It opens this coming weekend, so right now many hunters are preparing their guns, test-firing them and calibrating the sights.

We saw the horses startle at the sound of some of the closer shots later in the day yesterday. I’m hoping that the presence of our horses and Delilah will have rerouted the deer traffic away from our land, so the hunters will have no incentive to post themselves close by. I certainly haven’t seen as many deer around here this year as there were last year during the same time period.

I’ve posted images here on the blog of Delilah with her blaze-orange vest on, I wonder if we should get the horses some blaze-orange blankets. We definitely don’t want to have them wear antler hats for the next two weeks. I’ve heard stories that cause me to be uneasy during deer hunting season. Luckily, there are no strangers hunting in our vicinity. It is all private property, and the hunting is done by family groups that are familiar with the area.

I’m just happy our cats have finally decided to participate in some hunting this year. It’s the season!

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Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2013 at 7:00 am