Snowy Food Plots
We’ve been waiting for snowy food plots to learn how to the wildlife will react to the food we’ve provided. There are turnip and radish tops above snow but as you can see, the deer are pawing through the snow to get to grass. Unfortunately we don’t know what kind of grass seed was in the seed mix.
The deer have flattened one food plot, their favorite, and moved into the larger plot behind the house. The smaller plot was full of kale and oats, apparently the does and fawns’ favorites. They ate the seed heads from the oats and the leaves from the kale, leaving the kale ribs standing. Most of the ribs and oat plants are gone now. Now that we have snowy food plots the deer paw through the snow to get to food. They seem to favor grass over turnip and forage radish tops. When the grass is gone we expect them to pull up the turnip and radish roots. The roots they miss will die and improve the soil.
The short-antlered buck was here. It’s always good to see the bucks. Splay, the big old doe that’s fat and round looks like she’s packed on enough calories to last two winters. Good for her!
There are a lot of snowshoe hares this year. Remember the kits? I find their tracks near the wood yard. It’s easy to tell them from the others because they’re much smaller. The tracks above are from an adult hare. Hares are in the snowy food plots eating tops off turnip and a little grass. None of the animals want anything to do with pumpkins yet. That’s unusual. Maybe they’ll be the last thing eaten before the deer move on to their winter feeding grounds.
I hope to harvest one or two hares before the season closes at the end of March. They’re hard on the fruit trees in winter and the garden in summer. While I won’t be growing an outdoor garden, they can ruin the food plot as the tender shoots pop up. I’ll be looking for hares in the food plot only, not going into the woods to find them. I doubt I could find them without a hound and Zoey’s ears turn off when she’s behind a hare. She doesn’t hear a word we
Elsewhere on the homestead
I’ve made one wreath so far. I’ll make more today, finish decorating the tree that I haven’t told you about yet, and make a soup for supper. I haven’t been to the freezer yet. I’m going with whatever suitable soup meat I see first being the kind of soup I make. It could be caribou thanks to most generous Cristina, turkey or chicken we raised, or moose thanks to a friend who hit a moose. I wish I were baking bread today but since we still have half of a sour dough seven grain loaf there’s no need to bake.
What’s happening at your place today?
Deer Hunting Season
Deer hunting season is over for me. It’s my least favorite, least productive hunting season. I get cold easily, though this year it was unusually warm for the first four weeks and I wasn’t cold until the end. There aren’t a lot of deer around so we can shoot only bucks. I hunted almost every day and saw one buck right here on our land. I heard him crunch dry leaves and snap a branch on his way to an apple tree behind my right shoulder. Big bodied and four points, one of three bucks we have pictures of on the game cameras. He ate the apples on the ground and walked away from me. I watched his antlers over raspberry bushes and then his wide rump disappear into the woods. He had no interest in my bleats. His ears didn’t even twitch.
Steve built a food plot in the spring. I cut down a few trees but he really did all the work. He built it and they came. A ten point and two four point bucks, a lone doe, a doe with one fawn, and a doe with twins. Last year we had two bucks, the lone doe and a doe with one fawn. Progress. The ten point disappeared after being on the camera at the end of the second week of deer hunting season. Neighbors a quarter-mile down the road have a doe with quadruplets at their apple tree on a regular basis, and they’ve put mineral blocks out for them. They look great, strong and healthy. Seven fawns in a quarter-mile section of road. That’s encouraging. With our food plot and their mineral blocks and a major decrease in logging in the area for an extended period of time, our deer herd has some time to increase.
The major land owner that won’t be logging in the near future has blocked access to side roads. They’ve lined boulders up across the roads’ entrances and dug up culverts. When there weren’t culverts or boulders they dumped large piles of gravel or dug out the road. The number of heater hunters (they drive the back roads and don’t get out of the warm truck until they see a deer) dropped drastically. The folks who got out and walked harvested some big bucks. We saw a ten point with a drop tine being registered at Waite General Store. Five years from now we should see more and bigger deer. It’s encouraging.
Wins and Losses
Neither of us harvested a deer so that’s a loss. The wins for the deer and their habitat are huge and far outweigh venison in the freezer. Winter is here with single digit temperatures and a little snow here. Five miles from here the ground is still bare. Another easy winter seems unlikely but an average winter will be just fine. Survival of the fittest keeps the wildlife healthiest.
Enough snow fell last night to bring out the plow and sand truck. We were going to get up at 3 am to drive to Molunkus Stream Camps, hunt our way to the blind at Big Field, and wait for deer. I’ve had a feeling of gloom and doom for five days and willed the alarm to remain silent. And it did, through no fault of mine. Steve woke at 6 am, unusually late for us. We got up at 3:30 Tuesday morning to hunt and were more tired than we realized. I looked out the window to beautiful snow cover, rolled over and snuggled in. Hunting this morning? No thanks.
I’m not ready for snow. Three cords of firewood still need to be moved into the high tunnel. It’s the three of the what ended up being six cords of firewood I wasn’t planning on, wasn’t prepared for, didn’t have time to deal with. But here it is and there it sits. It might still be there in the spring. The lawnmower is still sitting in front of the barn, uncovered. The bear bait barrels too heavy for me to move are still in front of the barn. We’ll get them taken care of Sunday with help from the tractor. Until then, I’m enjoying the snow cover while hoping it melts.
There are still quite a few apples for the deer. They’ve been coming every night for the apples that drop during the day. They’re also eating turnip and forage radish tops (bottom photo) in the food plot in the orchard. When muzzleloading season ends Saturday I’ll put pumpkins in the new food plot. Zoey wasn’t thrilled by the snow first thing this morning but it didn’t take long to get excited. Zomobile ran circles around Ava. Ava seems to almost not notice Zoey’s antics. Waking up to snow cover was a reminder that like it or not, winter is coming.
I’m working out a recipe for a healing salve. I took a horrid fall down a flight of stairs about two years ago. Breaking my tailbone and pelvis, tearing both rotor cuffs, and doing other damage left me aching most of the time (a major contributor to cutting back). I’m working on a salve that might help my joints. I’ll have the crockpot out today to get the steeping started. Any natural healing suggestions for aching joints and muscles?
Today’s work consists of tidying up an article for a new “project.” I’ve been asked to write for a publication based in Ireland. The article has been written for a week but I’m not happy with it. The editor is wonderful. She’ll read it and pass it back to me for a rewrite. She’ll make me a better writer as she helps me slide into her publication’s style. My first article will be published in December. I’ll give you the link when it’s live. Later on I’ll be hunter in the snow cover, looking for a track to follow, one that brings me to a buck. ha That won’t happen but I’m going to try anyway! What are you doing today?
Young Bull Moose
A young bull moose visits the food plot on his way to somewhere more interesting. He’s been here night and day, always coming into and leaving the food plot in the same directions. On Tuesday he swung a left at the Y and walked past another camera. We’re game camera junkies. They’re all over the place.
Living with wildlife is never dull and usually a joy. I’d like to see this little guy so I’m thinking of putting up a tree stand and calling. A bull in rut is nothing to fool with so I’ll be sitting up high instead of on the ground. For most of the year the moose are no problem at all other than a few trampled plants in the garden. The rut has started so if he’s within hearing distance and thinks there’s a cow around he’ll be easy to see. I moved one of the cameras this morning in hopes of getting face shots.
The white strip to his right in the first three pictures is one of the high tunnels in the backyard. He isn’t shy about being around the house during the day. I hope he doesn’t come into the yard and get tangled in the electro fence the poultry is in. There haven’t been tracks in the garden so he probably isn’t getting too close to the birds.
What do you have for wildlife in your yard?