Friday, December 4, 2015


Wisconsin's public lands are never more crowded than during the nine day whitetail gun season.

They're rarely so barren as the week following that gun gun season.

I try to take the dogs out for a walk in that week as we look for unrecovered deer.  It became obvious that the area was much more heavily hunted this year than years past, but it was still fun to get out and continue to work on Stoic's field manners.

Only ten minutes out of the car and Stoic yelps and runs back past me as if he'd been nipped by a coyote.  A short investigation led to the only carcass we would find.  After a few seconds of checking it out, Stoic was ready to rag on it.  Once he was exposed for a few moments he started to get the idea that maybe raccoon isn't so scary afterwards.

Three brand new deerstands, shooting lanes, boxes to hold gamecams and scent lures.  There was a lot more human sign on this bit of public access than previous years.

Stoic checks out a den near the river.  Sparta and he left it on command, but I thought I was going to have to pull them out.

I do love me some upper midwest oak savanna.

We found to gut piles, relatively untouched by carrion eaters.  I took that as a good sign that they'd been eating meat and fat off of a unrecovered deer somewhere.  Maybe they were, but we didn't find it.  I let both dogs take a nibble before moving them on.  I don't care to clean vomit out of my car.

It feels as if there are more spaces along the river where willow saplings are growing larger and denser than years past.  If true, this has to be a good thing.  The river's cutting edge, seen in the background, is replaced by the growing edge.  Trees speed up the process of growing.  The Red Cedar moves so fast I might just live long enough to see an oak sapling growing on this GPS coordinate before my spark goes dark.

I have a whistle I use which all the dogs learn means "check in with me."  It isn't a hard "come" it is a "put your eyes on me."  I use it if I've gone a little too long seeing or hearing one of the dogs or when I am making a sudden change in direction or turning around.

Stoic ventured out a time or two but stayed close most of the time. It was the perfect set of events for him to learn the meaning of that "find me" whistle.

A tree falls in the river, the current slows behind it, an island is born, grass can grow.

Every time we're out here, I cross down tree to a large grassy island that I'm sure ought to hold something interesting to see.

Every time the dogs believe me to be nuts.

This beaver lodge has been occupied for at least the last four years.  Usually I can get them to come out, look me over, as slap their tail on the water in disgust at my rudeness of standing atop their lodge.  This year I heard them leave the go underwater from inside the lodge but no protest was forth coming.  Stoic was really, really, interested in the smell of what lived in there.  Yes, they're rodents but we're gonna learn to leave them alone.

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