Monday, September 28, 2015

Porcupines in a prickly situation

Last week while chasing elk around I ran into some very noisy porcupines as they are also in the rut.  They have the same gestation period as do elk, but I had never ran into them during this prickly situation.

As the two emerge from the dried bull rushes, the female turns and rubs noses with the male that is wailing just like a human baby crying.

She is a beautiful specimen with her long guard hair covering her lethal quills.

As she gets near me, she balances on her hind feet and tail and clicks her teeth, warning me to stay away.

The males quills are a mess as it looks like he has had to battle for the rights of the female.

Two other porcupines show up near the first two, but they are not so friendly with each other.

If you look closely you can see a quill stuck in the nose of this female.  No worry, porcupines are the only North American animal whose skin produces antibiotics protecting them from infection from miss-located quills.

Just another great day in the wilds of Idaho.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bugling elk

Last week I decided to work on an article about bugling elk for a couple of mornings.  I did not foresee what I was about to experience.  I knew there were about 150 head of elk on Camas NWR and they should be starting their rut.  Here are a few pictures from the experience.  The full story will be in the East Idaho News website on Saturday.

Early morning I caught the main herd moving from feeding in a hay field to the willow bottoms of Ray's Lake.

The herd bulls were busy chasing off other bulls trying to steal cows.

The herd bulls were challenged by other large strong bulls with them sparring against each other.

After I found a small harem, the herd bull charged the sagebrush I was hiding behind.  I stopped the charge by standing up.

After he settled back down I watched him with several cows and announcing his talents.
He allowed several yearling bulls to hang around the herd.  This one is very odd with a spike on one side and three spikes coming off the other side.

After the matriarch of the herd started leading them away from my hiding spot, these three yearling bulls, a yearling cow and the herd bull decided to give me a parting glance.

The last two to vacate the area was a calf and a rag-horned bull with a willow branch tangled in his right antler.

A great way to spend a couple of mornings in the Wilds of Idaho.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sage grouse season opens

Yesterday the Sage grouse season opened - many people believe for the last time, but with all the money the federal and state government have poured into this bird, I doubt it.  My intent was to play "shoot and release," as I intended not to kill one, but to take pictures of them and get a story for my new job as columnist for the East Idaho News.
I was on the desert long before daylight and my first pictures were of the snow-dusted Teton Peaks in the early morning light.  I flushed Sage grouse and Sharp-tailed grouse that were roosting on the dirt roads I travelled.
I met and interviewed hunters that I met along the dirty and rocky roads.  This is a hunter that I met a year ago and interviewed him.  He was successful in bagging his one bird for the day.  We flushed about 100 grouse on the hillside behind him.

I saw hundreds of birds and this large cock posed for me.  They are not as handsome now as they were last spring when they were on their leks trying to impress the ladies.

When I got to the check station on the way home I was asked by the Fish and Game officers if I had been successful and I replied that I had and showed them the pictures of the birds I had taken.  Since we do not enjoy the taste of Sage grouse, I did not harvest one.
It was just a great way to spend a morning in the wilds of Idaho.
You can read my stories at:  The name of the column will be "Living the Wild Life" found in the Outdoors section

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Great Egret

Here is an article that I wrote for the EIN in Idaho Falls, an online news source where my columns will appear.