Money Well Spent: Walking a WMA

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I spent a good chunk of my midday today hunkered down in the wind trying to coax a wary gobbler into bow range.  It was cloudy, cool and blustery.  Pretty much the same weather we’ve had for the last week or so, minus the rain.   I headed out to do some scouting on the first day of the archery season and the first spot I pulled up to greeted me with a big tom standing smack dab in the middle of the road.

“Well, now what?”

He darted into the woods on the west side of the road, the public side.  I snuck the truck up a quarter mile and hopped out, hoping to cut him off in the woods.  As I was pulling my bow out of the back, I watched him sneak back across the road onto private land.

“Dagnabbit.”

I did have access to the land adjacent to this private piece and drove around the section to get set up.  It would be a lengthy walk and I just hoped I could get there in time.

The wind blew me sideways as I snuck down the middle of a shelterbelt made up of thick pines.  Wildlife management had been the forethought when these were planted.  So much deer sign was present that I started to think this was where the animal sewer lines drained.

Every 50 yards or so, I’d stop down and call.  Roosters crowed all around me but I never heard a gobble.  As I’d move forward, I’d watch pheasants reluctant to fly scurry from tree to tree, crisscrossing the deer trail I was tip-toeing down.   Finally, I was near the destination I’d been heading for: The end of the belt, just across a tilled field from the grove the tom took shelter in earlier.

“FLAP FLAP FLAP!!”  I was startled as a mere 10 feet from me I heard the clumsy wingbeats of a large bird.  I couldn’t see it as the heavy underbrush obscured my view, but I came to an all to real conclusion:  There goes my tom!  We’d both walked right toward each other, just on the other side of the trees.

With my soul crushed and my spirit defeated by the winged Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to regroup, have lunch and head back out in the evening.

Somehow I dozed off briefly after lunch.  How does that happen?  🙂

I woke up to a pleasant surprise however as the sun made it’s first appearance since the 90’s.  (Or at least it seemed that long ago).  I decided to forego my turkey escapades for some close up waterfowl photography.  I’d been seeing a number of wood ducks and hooded mergansers in the area, but conditions didn’t really allow for good pictures.  The sun changes that.

Radco 300I decided to head out to a wildlife management area that I’d never walked before, but knew it held some of the best habitat in the state.  I didn’t realize just how good it was.  Now I know how those kids in the Narnia movies felt when they walked through the closet.

For a couple of hours, I slowly walked my way through flooded depressions, sat slough-side and took pictures.   Pictures of ducks, geese, rabbits, squirrels, deer, coyotes, and all sorts of birds.  Bones, landscapes and tools that have been used in the management plan on this particular piece of property, like wood duck houses.

It was awesome.

After the weather we’ve had lately, it was good to get outside.  Doing a little exploring is always fun too.   Here are some pictures from the day:

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Two coyotes moved silently next to me, unfortunately I couldn’t get a real good shot of them.

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Here’s evidence that there is a healthy coyote population around.

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There were a surprisingly large amount of deer near where the coyotes were spotted.

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It was getting dark out when I spotted these two young deer. One decided it was time to leave while the other was still assessing the situation.

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While wood ducks nest in man made structures like the one in the background, geese will use “nature” made structures like beaver huts and muskrat houses to nest on or near.

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The landscape was managed well for wildlife.

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Despite not hearing any planes, evidence of their presence was evident.

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These woodies allowed me a little space invasion before heading for more comfortable surroundings.

A pair of woodies buzz around the area

A pair of woodies buzz around the area

Local deer grabbing an evening snack.

Local deer grabbing an evening snack.

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This drake wood duck passed through grabbing a few snacks and a quick drink along the way.

 

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