November 30, 2014

Who Came to the Gut Pile?

On the afternoon of November 5th, I walked out the back door and hiked to some burned-over BLM land about 45 minutes from the house.

Maybe it was my scouting and camera work at "Camera Trap Spring," maybe it was the red gods' favor, but about an hour after leaving home I shot a mule deer buck, three points or four points (Western count), depending which side you looked at  — not a huge buck, but since I would be backpacking the meat out, that was OK.

I boned the meat and filled my Osprey Talon 22 day pack past its design specifications, I am sure, but it's a tribute to that design that it still felt comfortable, even though heavier than I had ever loaded it.

The next morning I returned — with a larger pack —carefully glassing the area as I moved through the burnt pines, lest a bear have found the gut pile, bones, etc. No, just a few crows were flying around and talking.
Magpies came first, the morning that I set the camera.

So would a bear or other scavengers come? One way to find out — I brought a scout camera with fresh batteries, piled bones, hide, rib cage, and skull with the guts — and set it to cover the scene.

Today, twenty-four days later, M. and I went back for it. The deer's remains had been rearranged considerably.

The well-nibbled rib cage and spine were a few yards away, downhill. The hide was in several pieces, and the head was not immediately visible.

The slideshows are 19 MB and 16 MB, so if you don't want to load them, see highlights below.

The bear came later. An ear-tagged bear, meaning it has been relocated once — not like there is any vacant habitat.
video

The golden eagle made multiple visits.
video

Golden eagle

The ear-tagged bear has a feast.
Of course there were lots of crows visiting, and a couple of ravens and a red fox. And other deer walked past the scene unconcerned.

November 19, 2014

November 18, 2014

Float like a Bighorn . . .


. . . . sting like a . . . I'm working on that.

Meanwhile, marvel at how a bighorn sheep can just float up a steep rocky slope that I would have to negotiate one slow step at a time.

November 12, 2014

OK, So They Look like Lumberjacks [sic], But Do They Know Stihl from Husqvarna?

A funny satirical piece from Gear Junkie on "The Rise of the Lumbersexual."
He looks like a man of the woods, but works at The Nerdery, programming for a healthy salary and benefits. His backpack carries a MacBook Air, but looks like it should carry a lumberjack’s axe.
Actually, I was feeling a little bit lumber-metrosexual-something this week because I laundered my sawyer's chaps.

The oil-filler cap fell out last week, and bar oil went all over my left leg. You expect oil on your chaps, but this particular big oil stain embarrassed me. Also, I had to pay $7 for a brand new Stihl cap at Bubba's TrueValue hardware.
The MetroJack has even been seen wearing pieces inspired from mountaineering. He might be wearing a Patagonia heritage jacket, or some technical Cordura nylon pants that look great in the low light of the bar, but also provide protection from a chain-saw blade [sic]. 
If these dudes start wearing Kevlar chaps, though, you can color me surprised.

November 09, 2014

Getting into the Color Green

A review of Green: The History of a Color notes of the color, 
Its ascendance is a remarkable transformation in color ideology, one that is particularly astonishing given the relative marginality of the color within political and aesthetic movements during the bulk of the 20th century and before. As [Michel Pastoureau] remarks, green occurred only rarely in the color schemes favored by the mass producers of consumer goods, and, at least in theory, the artists of the heroic era of early modernist abstraction abjured it as well. Mondrian called it a"useless color." Kandinsky described it as tiresome and compared it to "a fat cow, full of good health, lying down, rooted, capable only of ruminating and contemplating the world through its stupid, inexpressive eyes"
But then, "Verde que te quiero verde  . . ."  —  I wonder if this French author deals with Lorca.

November 03, 2014

What Can You Call a "Trophy"?

Among the countless thoughts running through my head at 5 a.m. today (mostly not stuff I would share) was a bit of self-castigation for using the word "trophy" in the previous post about blurry photos at the waterhole. (I see that I used it on my first ringtail photo last April too. So I'm being repetitive too.)

What did I really do? For years, off and on, I have been hanging cameras on that by the tiny, seasonal spring.

Ringtails, meanwhile, have been on my list of critters that I know are supposed to be here, but I never see. Or that might be here—there was the whole issue about fishers in the Wet Mountains, yes or no, in 2005.

This year I set the camera on May 5th, checked it every four to six weeks, switching out the memory card and the batteries as needed.

As usual, being out there—or being out there in the form of a surrogate plastic box with a lens—gets results. I set up a gadget, and it did the work while I slept.

But I laugh at myself for using the word "trophy," like I stalked the magnificent beast or something. It is such loaded word. Some people loath it. Even I felt a little bit strange when I once visited a rich doctor's two-story-tall trophy room full of heads of African big game animals, a full-body mount of a polar bear, etc.

There is that underlying sense of conflict in the word, whose Greek root means "monument of an enemy's defeat."

Yet we all hang onto things that remind us of peak experiences, unless we are true renunciates. My "trophy" is tasteful, but yours is disgusting—is that it?

Maybe I should have just used the word "accomplishment." With two ringtail "hits" at two different sites, I have proven to myself that they are here, and now I need to figure out how to get better pictures, not that I am trying for the quality of photos that a print magazine needs.

But if I worked for a better photo and got it, that would be a trophy. The enemy would be my own laziness.

November 02, 2014

Two Ringtails and a Weasel Went to a Waterhole

Last spring I wrote about my first scout camera photo of a ringtail, which was something of a trophy, in that they are secretive and nocturnal.

On Wednesday last I picked up the camera at Camera Trap Spring, closing the site for the winter, and found that two ringtails had visited that spot as well in early October.

Unfortunately, they were right at the edge of definition for the infrared flash — the batteries may have been weakening too — but I was still delighted to see them.



It is a weasel, and apparent size suggests a short-tailed weasel (ermine). But I did not think to place a vertical ruler by the water source. Any mavens of Mustelidae out there want to make a definite identification?


UPDATE: The Camera Trap Codger, who is an actual wildlife biologist, opts for long-tailed weasel in his comment — which is what I sort of thought too until I argued myself out of it.