Thursday, January 31, 2019

Bucks Out Back

“There ain’t no deer” has been a frequent complaint from hunters who don’t get very far from a road. But anyone who has camera traps in woodland quickly comes to see that there are quite a few deer in forest and field.

A friend who lives near the Big Woods knows the deer are there, and there's no shortage of them. He’s said there were deer around his house all summer and fall, although he hadn’t seen bucks around the house and nobody at his hunting camp had seen any bucks.

Not wanting to burst his bubble or break his heart, I hadn’t told him that I’d gotten photos and videos of bucks on the hill behind the house before and during hunting season –

After deer season was over and the woods had been virtually empty of humans for several weeks the camera on the hill above the house caught –

And here’s the question, where were those bucks during hunting season and how did they survive – and how did the older of those bucks escape during previous hunting seasons?

The Deer-Forest Study being conducted by the Pennsylvania State University has shed some light on where deer spend their time during hunting season; and has offered some answers on how the bucks out back may have avoided hunters in this post on the study's blog.

The hill out back becomes steeper and rockier as the elevation increases until the slope rounds off to the top, not terrain that makes for easy deer hunting. But it is terrain that's a good place for deer to lay low.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Christmas Turkeys

Roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, squash, corn, home-baked rolls – for a number of generations that’s been our family’s Christmas feast. Oh yes, followed by apple pie and pecan pie, both mit schlag (with whipped cream).

This past Christmas day we were away, enjoying roast turkey with family, when the Christmas turkeys came down off the hill behind the house –

Only occasionally do turkeys come near the house, but on this Christmas day they walked in front of a camera and on down to the backyard. Why the turkeys and deer headed back up the hill will remain a mystery, perhaps a vehicle passing by or someone walking a dog along the road – in any case neither the turkeys nor deer were really frightened, just cautious enough to walk away.

Later the turkeys came back down the hill and passed the camera on their way to somewhere else.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Cats on the Rim

Wildlife trails often follow a terrain feature – a stream, hogback ridge, edge of a plateau or other steep drop. For months one of my camera traps has been set to view along a wildlife trail that follows the edge of the Allegheny Plateau in northcentral Pennsylvania. You may have seen photos from that spot in this post or videos here.

The location has yielded both photos and videos of bobcats that spend a lot of time in a jumble of boulders below the rim and frequently hunt along the edge of the plateau. By hunting along the edge, bobcats have access to two different habitats, have a wide view down the hill and a ready escape route. Here are some videos of the bobcats – 

The first few clips were taken over a span of three hours; the last a number of days later after a few inches of snow had fallen.

Did you notice the second bobcat in the background at about 24 seconds into the video?