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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dead of Winter at Long Ridge Deer Camp


 Today was a bit chilly - minus 10 degrees here at 7:30 this morning. After barn chores I wondered what I would do outside today other than chain sawing up some logs I had dragged out of a new pasture. The wind was a steady 15 mph right out of the north, so I wasn't sure I wanted to hunt...riggggghhht...so, after a camp hunter and a pal came by the house to purchase a gun, I noticed that the temp had  jumped up to 8 degrees. T-shirt weather! Down to camp I went, struggled into my snow camo pull-over, heavy wool cap, and HD gloves, strapped on the M-4 Colt, and we were off, this time to the western log landing. Two deer had wandered around the landing (we have about 4 inches of snow, about 24 inches less than usual) and a fox track that was dogged by a large coyote track. The fox was staying on top of the crust, and the coyote breaking through, so my money is on the fox. I followed the deer tracks up the perimeter trail and found  this below acorn feeding scrape. 
I continued across to the Far Ridge Trail stopping every several hundred yards to wail on my dying rabbit call. Nothing. When  got to the Far Ridge Stand the wind was blowing quite hard, and since there were no tracks there I headed to the SE bowl. Just above where I sat on stand in November I looked down about twenty feet and saw what looked like a deer bed.


I slid down to check it out and found it was a coyote bed. Strange, because the snow was melted under it, and I know that gray fox can sleep all day on the snow, and no melting occurs. So I checked the clear tracks coming into it, and it was a coyote for sure. On a whim, because the exiting tracks looked so fresh, I pulled a glove and felt the bed. Sure enough, it was still warm. That means, this guy heard me coming and skedaddled long before I could see him. The hard crust did make for very loud walking.

Below are his fast moving exit tracks...right through thick and effective cover. I was approaching from up above on the ridge.
I stayed there for a half hour and called, but no creatures showed, so I decided to backtrack the coyote out of his bed to see if I could find a kill. I stayed on him for about a half mile, and then we got into such thick evergreens and blow downs that I gave him up, and headed toward our southern perimeter trails. Once there, and at the East Stand I picked up a pair of coyote tracks following my foot prints from the other day toward camp. They stayed on the trail the whole way, and signed heavily at the overlook.


Right here, 

and here...they are busy as they enter the breeding season...
I then followed them the last several hundred yards back to camp...about 100 yards before I got there several deer had crossed the trail headed in the general direction of the East Ridge Stand. It looked like the two coyotes hauled off after them, but nearer camp, I picked up another coyote track that had been within 100 feet of the parking lot. So, no luck today, not sure what the coyotes finally got to eat, got half frozen (it had fallen to 6 degrees when I got back to camp, but I had a wonderful time trudging around the forest reading sign. Tonight it is supposed to drop to 30 below zero, so I probably won't be out there tomorrow! Or, maybe I will! What have you been up to these winter months?
jackzeller@myfairpoint.net

3 comments:

  1. This time of the year it is like most of the deer vanish. You do not see most of them unless you go hiking through the woods. It is always nice to come across a deer bed or trail in the woods.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rick why aren't you out coyote hunting! Jack

      Delete
  2. after reading your words
    i'm imagining Long Ridge Farm from an eagle's view point
    all these beings, furred or human, making tracks, taking turns to follow each other
    reading each other's stories as they go
    and leaving signs,
    deliberate and sometimes not.

    ReplyDelete

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