Saturday, February 23, 2013
It all started with an invitation to join Mrs. Troutbirder and her teachers’ sorority for breakfast at the Pope & Young museum in Chatfield. "What's Pope & Young," I had asked, looking for an excuse not to go. "I don't know either", she replied but Jewel said Steve is going so.... "Ok," I replied not too thrilled.The breakfast was decent, the museum tour was terrific. Pope and Young turned out to be a national bow hunters club dedicated to conservation and record-keeping. It is similar to the Boone and Crocket club for gunners. The museum had the history of bowhunting in dioramas and other exhibits. Saxton Pope and Art Young are the two gentlemen who are synonymous with the bow hunting revival that began near the start of the 20th century and continued through today.
Of course, I was thrilled to relive my boyhood memories of Fred Bear hunting the polar bear with his bow and my Ben Pearson long bow. In my youth, I had proved to be an adept hunter of squirrels and rabbits. And then I couldn't help but remember my first years bowhunting the elusive Minnesota whitetail.
It all began my first year of teaching in the Valley. Several veteran bow hunters, Don and Jerry, invited me to join them for the fall deer season. They were my mentors in this exciting new sport. I knew there would be no "buck fever" for me because well... I was Mr. Cool.
Several outings produced no opportunities. Then my big chance came on a Saturday morning near Lanesboro. I had been placed at the head of a steep gully about fifteen yards above a small spring. My hunting partners fanned out to either side after advising me that any deer would surely come up the ravine on their way to the spring. I was situated behind some bushes and directly in front of a large log.It was still not quite light when I assumed my standing position. I was ready, willing, and able to take my first deer. Soon every little sound in the forest got my attention. I was sure a number of times that deer were approaching me from behind.... only to find, upon carefully turning my head, that it was squirrels, grouse, chipmunks and other woodsy creatures. No deer though appeared for hours. Finally, I decided to sit down on the log, where I could still see the spring ahead and down to my right. The bushes concealed my vantage point.
I never heard the deer closely approach me from the left. There were three deer which I saw out of the corner of my eye. Paralyzed, I never moved. The lead deer stopped not five feet in front of me on the other side of the bushes. Then she turned her head, lowered it slightly and stared right at me. Now what do I do?I swear every time I blinked she seemed to stare harder. The standoff lasted an eternity. Every time I slowly tried to stand up and get my bow (which was lying across my lap) into a vertical position she twitched. Finally, I decided on Plan B. I would lift my still horizontal bow slightly, draw the bowstring, and shoot her straight thru the bushes. At five feet, I could hardly miss. From my sitting position I I slowly began to draw, reaching about half a draw, when the string ran into a large obstacle.... my stomach. I could have shot. Probably having the effect of a small mosquito bite. About that time I also noticed several more deer gathered around the spring. I picked out the largest and went for the stand-up quick shot. At my first motion to stand up, the deer on the other side of the bush let out a loud "woof" and immediately all six deer scattered in six directions. I never got a shot off.
I bow hunted a few more years after that but as my friends had moved on to other school districts, I found it was the camaraderie of the hunt that had been most appealing. Thus ended my deer hunting years although I continued with upland game and waterfowl but those are other stories.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Its been a while since we've had a real Minnesota blizzard here in the southeastern part of the state (Bluff Country). Maybe a decade or more. Yes, we've had sub zero temps and with very high winds on occasion, the "wind chill" drops out of sight. What has been missing are the big snowfalls that with the wind creates huge drifts that block the roads and pathways. Strangely, this winter's bad storms have passed us closely by to the north and the south. Now, take a look at what the aftermath of a blizzard looked like some time ago, shortly after we had just been married and Mrs. T was clearing the driveway. What a sweetheart!
Okay, so she really did the sidewalks, and my little lawn tractor with the snow blower wasn't up to the job, so I had to get the local construction company's huge front end loader to clear out our driveway down to the highway. The next picture shows a drift in our back yard that topped the six foot wooden fence....A real Minnesota blizzard here in Bluff Country. Its been a while......
Monday, February 18, 2013
For my Troutbirder blog I do try to focus on a good story but a good picture is worth.... well you know that old cliché. . My challenge with a little point and shoot camera is to get up close and personal. The key is to talk to the little creatures in a calm and soothing manner, "now Mr. Grizzly Bear please hold still for just a minute while I get this shot." Sometimes it works. Often it doesn’t. Well, ok, maybe the “ stand on the road , with the Grizzly in the ditch shot”, was a little too close for comfort. Sometimes these techniques don't work at all. Whales are tough getting to hold still.....
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is owned and operated by the National Audubon Society. It was established to protect the largest remaining stand of ancient bald cypress left in North America. This process of saving the stand began in the 1950's, although protecting the wading birds that nested within the swamp had been going on the early part of the 20th century. The sanctuary is on the mainland north and east of Naples, Florida. It has several different ecosystems and thus different habitats for the birds, plants and animals who live there. This was our third visit to this place of enchantment. Come on along as we take a look.
We followed a 2.25 mile boardwalk. At a normal walking pace it should take you about 2-3 hours. We took about 6 hours, which would be a clue as to how many interesting sights there were and the number of photos we took. This was our second visit with our friends Gary and Rosie.
Mrs. T found this female painted bunting checking out a feeder.
All in all if you want to see natural Florida at its very best Corkscrew Sanctuary is the place to go....
Monday, February 11, 2013
They were everywhere. National parks and wildlife refuges, state, county and city parks and natural areas. Looking sleepy but always watching....dangerous. My main job seemed to be to prevent Mrs. T. from getting too close. All photos by Mrs. T.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is one of North Americas premier birding sites. It lies on popular Sanibel Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, just off of Fort Myer in southwestern Florida. With our friends Gary and Rosie, it was the Troutbirders second visit there after a previous trip in 2010. On that March trip we had wanted to see our beloved Minnesota Twins in spring training. Take a look at a few of the many birding highlights, all photographed by Mrs. T. (Click on photographs to enlarge)
There were waders and divers flying all around and beyond the small sandspit lots of small shorebirds (peeps) I couldn't identify with my binoculars.
The world record migrator. This Red Knot has left southern Argentina, is resting in southern Florida, on his way to the Artic for breeding season.
The White Pelicans lining up for a Conga Dance
An immature Little Blue Heron who was working the shoreline to pickup up bugs and was too busy to notice us.