Winter’s Victim, Part 4: Winter’s Savior

Winter’s Victim, Part 4: Winter’s Savior

From March 14 through my visit on the March 30, there were varying intensities and frequencies of visits. The most notable was from a vulture because they are not frequent visitors in the winter. My guess is that it was migrating because it only stopped by for a meal on the go.

Turkey Vulture Takes a Turn

Turkey Vulture Takes a Turn

Another surprise was the fisher, not because it came at all, but rather that it only came once.

A Fisher Checks Out the Carcass

A Fisher Checks Out the Carcass

There were countless visits by coyotes, even after all of the deer was consumed, except hair, including the morning that I checked the camera. You can see in this photo from that morning how little was left at that point.

What's Left

What’s Left

The bobcat visits were much less frequent, but did provide some great photos.

Bobcat's St. Patrick's Day Feast

Bobcat’s St. Patrick’s Day Feast

The ravens were a constant, and they were by far the most photographed critters over the last two weeks.

The Ravens Were a Constant

The Ravens Were a Constant

A mouse even got involved. I had to look closely, but one night as a coyote approached you can see a mouse scooting away. The coyote barley gave it a look, unlike almost any other time when he would have turned himself inside out to catch it.

There were more great photographs than we could reasonably include in a few blog posts. Instead, we’ll just include a slideshow here.

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All in all, this young buck provided much needed sustenance to many forms of life during the very trying days—the most trying days—of winter, as fat reserves are all but gone this late in the winter for most of these animals.

Having said that, I still am sorry that this little spike horn buck did not live to see his second spring.

WLAGS

Winter’s Victim, Part 3: Midnight Coyotes

Winter’s Victim, Part 3: Midnight Coyotes

Midnight on day 3 (March 12) found the coyotes on sight. They fed very aggressively for about 30 minutes. Again, the pair fed in shifts. At 6:30 AM, Blondie made her first appearance of the day.

Blondie Being Cautious

Blondie Being Cautious

She gave us some great photos in that time.

Blondie Feeding

Blondie Feeding

The bobcat stopped by at about 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 3:00 PM. Each time, he grabbed a few mouthfuls and then headed into the swamp, seemingly to rest and digest between visits.

Bobcat Coming for Brunch

Bobcat Coming for Brunch

The coyotes returned at dusk. Blondie and her mate returned repeatedly during the night.

Anytime that there wasn’t a predator on the carcass, the ravens would be. You can just picture them sitting safely in the treetops, waiting for any opportunity to swoop in for their share.

Again midnight on day 4 (March 13), found a pair of coyotes already feasting.

Midnight Coyotes

Midnight Coyotes

This was the busiest of days, with more than 700 pictures taken.

A Mouthful

A Mouthful

There was a coyote at the carcass ever hour of the day and night.

Top Dog

Top Dog

They seemed to be trying to deprive the ever-present ravens of even a single bite.

Damn Ravens

Damn Ravens

Blondie showed up in the late afternoon and got her fair share.

Late Afternoon Snack

Late Afternoon Snack

You can clearly see in one photo one coyote waiting in the background while another ate.

The Lookout

The Lookout

This behavior goes against all of the images that I have had in my mind of what takes place at a carcass. I suspect it may be very different if it was a fresh kill, especially if the group took part in the chase and kill.

The consuming took place all night.

WLAGS

Winter’s Victim, Part 2: No Blonde Jokes, Please

Winter’s Victim, Part 2: No Blonde Jokes, Please

The camera took 598 photos the next day; March 11.The consumption started at about 3:00 AM, and it went through the night and into the morning, until the bobcat showed up. It is unclear exactly how many coyotes took part, but I can clearly identify only two.

The Good Stuff

The Good Stuff

They fed in shifts. Never during this whole time was there even a moment when two coyotes fed at the same time. While one coyote fed, the other would be 10 yards or more away, standing guard. They would then change positions. Each would feed for 15 to 30 minutes then rest and digest.

Tearing Off a Bite

Tearing Off a Bite

The coyotes made a hasty retreat at about 8:45 AM, and the bobcat appeared at 9:05. The cat remained for more than an hour.

The Cat Shows Up

The Cat Shows Up

All was quiet until a very big surprise came at 3:00 in the afternoon. Blondie made her grand entrance. She is the lightest colored coyote I have ever seen, including photos in journals and such.

Blondie Enters the Scene

Blondie Enters the Scene

She fed briefly then ran off with a large mouthful of meat. An hour or so later, she returned and fed again, and then her larger and darker mate showed up to get his share. They fed until midnight.

You might remember the photo I got three years ago of a very dark coyote not 100 yards from where Blondie was on this day.

Coyote at Stand #2

Coyote at Stand #2

Dark coyotes are rare too. My contact at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF) recently asked for permission for Dave Anderson to use that photo for an article to appear in the New Hampshire Union Leader. I of course said yes. Wait until he sees Blondie!

WLAGS

Winter’s Victim, Part 1: The Feast Begins

Back on January 11, 2017, I discovered a dead spike horn buck. He had been dead for about a week or ten days, I would guess.

Winter's Victim

Winter’s Victim

Two sets of human tracks passed within a few feet of him, but they showed no sign of the person having noticed him. I felt sad about this one because I had photographed and videoed this buck many times since he started his antler growth in March of 2016. I even got a couple of videos of him rubbing his antlers on a tree.

I always feel sad about the death of an animal, even ones that I have killed. When I take their life, I know that they will be fully utilized, and I thought this deer’s life would be utilized even more.

I knew it would take some time for animals and birds to take advantage of this, but even I was surprised by how long it would take. I knew that coyotes, for whatever reason, will let a carcass sit and age for weeks, but with this deer, they exceeded even that timeframe.

I am certainly not a medical examiner, but it is my determination that another buck killed this buck. Here’s why. There was only one small cut on his right side by his rib cage. The hole was too elongated to be from a bullet. There was no bloating that would have indicated the kind of damage a bullet would do, and there was no exit wound. The cut was far too small to be from an arrow. If a predator had killed him, it would have consumed him at once, at least partially. He was perfectly intact.

The timing (early January) was such that this would have taken place during the second rut of the season. That is when any un-bred mature does and the does born that year and come into estrus. The bucks are very aggressive at this time because their instincts tell them this is their last chance to pass on their genes.

To top it off, there was an unusually high number of bucks in the area this season. That group included two mature seven-pointers that I assumed were the dominate deer, until later when a big mature eight-pointer showed up, undoubtedly from another area where he had fulfilled his breeding duties and was anxious for more.

I think he was the culprit. The little spike buck lived in close proximity to all the other bucks, including the two seven-pointers his whole life, and he gave them a wide berth during the rut.

Every day that you live increases your chances of living the next day, but sometimes your luck just runs out.

The little spike met his demise in early January, and there he lay until March 10, when, at the stroke of midnight, a coyote started to feed on the carcass. It took the prime pieces (the steaks), and moved off.

The Feeding Starts

The Feeding Starts

My first surprise was how quickly a bobcat got involved. First thing that morning, there it was.

First Daylight Visitor

First Daylight Visitor

Over the years, my cameras have debunked two myths about bobcats. The first myth is that they don’t eat carrion. A dead porcupine behind my garage disproved that theory.

Bobcat Eating Dead Porcupine (April 2016)

Bobcat Eating Dead Porcupine (April 2016)

The second myth is that they are nocturnal. They certainly do hunt at night, but they hunt far more in the daylight, especially in the cold of winter, despite the longer nights. My cameras show far more activity during daylight and often well after sunup. I believe they hunt more with their eyes and ears and far less with their nose than do the canines, hence the value of hunting in daylight. I have also noticed many times that they are very active on the brightest of days.

One of the Bobcats of WLA

One of the Bobcats of WLA

In fact, of the 3,424 photos I got of animals over this carcass, I don’t have a single photo of a bobcat at night. True to form, this bobcat came back for a quick bite at 4:50 in the afternoon on that first day, and 30 minutes later, the coyote grabbed a mouthful and dashed a few feet away to engulf it. He continued this periodically for a couple of hours. There was no activity again until a coyote passed by about midnight, seemingly just to check on the carcass, but there was much more activity in the coming days.

WLAGS

The Moose Are Very Active in J.E.

The Moose Are Very Active in J.E.

Today, there was moose sign EVERYWHERE! As I stated last time they were using all “my” trails.

This photo is of what greeted us as we passed through the gate. It is bull droppings on Rte.1 right along the beaver pond. The droppings stretch from me to my granddaughter. In hind sight, I should have paced it off.

Bull Moose Droppings

Bull Moose Droppings

I took this photo of the brook at the same place I did last time to show how much things have changed in six days.

The Brook Six Days Later

The Brook Six Days Later

We were in moose sign all morning. One passed right in front of Stand # 1 and just to the left of Stand #2, just out of camera’s view. Then that one, a bull, headed for the Tunnel, where it bedded down. Note how much bigger this bed is compared to the earlier ones.

Bull Moose Bed

Bull Moose Bed

There were several sets of track going up and down the trail from Stand #1 to Stand #3 and past the Fork. We came across four beds, countless droppings, and browse sign. There was no hair or ticks in any of the beds, thankfully. This photo is in the gully at the end of Route 1A, below Dana’s Knob. 

Gully

Gully

As soon as we went through the Tunnel, the sign increased as we were now in the Matriarch’s home range.

She and the bull were obviously spending some time together. Would you believe that they were all over Buck Knob but never stepped in front of the camera?

After checking the camera at Stand #1, which my granddaughter had to climb, where there was much sign, we headed for the camera by the gate.

All along the way—the field, Frog Pond, and both brooks—there was sign. This all had to happen in the last 24+ hours because of all the snow we lost after the snowfall 36 hours earlier. These conditions are ripe for shed hunting.

Tony Found These Antlers in J.E. in 2010

Tony Found These Antlers in J.E. in 2010

On another note, my frustration with the Stealth camera continues!

There were moose, fox, and coyote tracks in front of the camera—most of it crossing, despite my effort to aim it down the trails—and not a SINGLE video of any of them! But all is not lost. It took a good daytime video of a bobcat. However, again the poor trigger speed reared its ugly head. The bobcat was in the middle of the screen (moving right to left) before the camera triggered. In other words I got half the video I should have.

It frustrates me to the point that I’m ready to shoot it, but I’m already down two cameras as my two oldest Bushnell cameras finally died last fall.

It is looking like that not-so-crazy woodchuck in Pennsylvania might be right.

WLAGS

 

Tracks

Tracks

 

A quick, hour-and-45-minute trip, to J.E. this morning was fairly uneventful. I was hoping to take advantage of the minimal snow cover to do some shed hunting. That proved to be fruitless. The only moose track I found was snow filled, and I never cut a deer track.

There was a lot of track of coyotes, snowshoe hare, bobcat, squirrel, porcupine, and fox. In the photo, you will see a track that frequented the brooks and beaver pond. Any guesses?

Tracks Along the Brook

Tracks Along the Brook

It was a pair of mink, and much of it was very fresh as was some of the hare, coyote, and bobcat tracks. The hare tracks were plentiful, as long as you stayed in the swamps. I concentrated on the swamps because in the past I have had luck there finding moose sheds.

A Shed Moose Antler I Found Years Ago

A Shed Moose Antler I Found Years Ago

There were virtually no tracks in front of the cameras, but some nearby, so I was pleased to get an 8:00 AM video of a big coyote that was very nervous.

We are supposed to get 5” of snow over the next 18 hours so shed hunting will be a lot tougher after that.

WLAGS

Last Blog Entry of 2014

It was nice to get out after six weeks on the disabled list. This was a lost season for me and for Dana, but we can hope for better health and luck for next year.

When I left this morning, I needed ice creepers and rain gear. When I came out, I could have used snowshoes and sunglasses. It was not a very exciting day, but I very much needed to focus on something other than my health and I did. The only fresh track I saw was bobcat. He was walking in Rte. 1A.

Bobcat Track

Bobcat Track

The only other reasonably fresh track was from the big seven-pointer as he passed within a few feet of Stand #2.

The cameras were all absent of any meaningful photos. The deer have moved up the mountain to steeper south-facing slopes where they can access the acorns. The snow around our stands was a crusty 4” to 8” in most places.

Other than that, it was all about the beavers. They are taking advantage of this break in the weather by taking down a number of beech trees. In the photo you can see where they dropped one across Rte. 1, and if you look to the right down the road you will see the leaves of a smaller beech that they dropped, probably in the last 24 hours. They are also working on a second lodge.

Beaver-Felled Beech Trees

Beaver-Felled Beech Trees

There were no brookies in the brooks. I’m sure they are wintering in the beaver ponds, where the water is slower, warmer, and food more abundant.
Now I’m shifting my focus to this coming year’s fishing. I’m working on trips to the Moose River, Moosehead Lake, Roach River, B Pond, Pond In The River, the Cupsuptic River, the Androscoggin River, and with a little luck, maybe a return trip to Parmachenee Lake. Wouldn’t that be great? I can’t wait! Hopefully we will fill another album this coming year.

WLAGS

Bobcat Boom

With all of the bobcat sightings this year, it didn’t come as a big surprise that a four-year study done by New Hampshire Fish and Game and UNH stated a significant increase in the bobcat population.

The study, done largely by game cameras, showed that the statewide population has grown from a low of about 100 in the 1980s to between 800 and 1,200 today.

Bobcat at Stand #2 This June

Bobcat at Stand #2 This June

The strongholds for the bobcat population are the southwest corner of the state and in the north on the Notches, but they are now in every area of the state.

One of the major reasons for the increase in the bobcat population was a corresponding increase in the turkey population.

Turkey

Turkey

Bobcats have an advantage over coyotes in pursuit of turkeys because of their climbing ability.

WLAGS

Scouting News for September 10, 2014

Yesterday I hit J.E. and was pleased to see that the acorn crop continues to look better. Still no sign of beechnuts. If I were in control of such things, I would delay the beechnut crop to next year when there is almost certainly not going to be an acorn crop. If it happens we get both, it will mean some very healthy deer, but it will make them difficult to pattern.

The cameras revealed what we already knew; we have a very healthy bear population. We have far more bear photos than deer. There were bears on both cameras; mostly during daylight hours, in fact, bankers’ hours: between 8 and 5!

Who Goes There?

Who Goes There?

There were a few does, including one we have seen for the last two years. She is slightly piebald. You can make out the white spots mostly around her shoulders. If it is the same deer, then she is probably older because I have never seen a fawn with her.

Piebald Doe

Piebald Doe

There is a new buck in the neighborhood. A young, fairly long-horned, spike buck.

Spike Horn

Spike Horn

There was a fair amount of moose sign, and the cat is back. I got two photos of a bobcat, well after sunrise, but mostly of his rump.

Today I hit the old apple orchard on the far northwest side of the mountain, off H.M. Pd. Rd. I hiked up the trail that 10 or more years ago I took my nephews, Andy and Cody to while hoping to see their first moose. I realized that I hadn’t been there in more than five years when I discovered a new, for me, beaver pond that is already abandoned.

The "New" Beaver Pond

The “New” Beaver Pond

There was moose track the whole way up the trail, and not much in the way of deer sign, but bear droppings.

I got to the old orchard and had mixed feelings as the trees were in good shape, mostly, but had been hit by bears.

Bear Claw Marks

Bear Claw Marks

One tree still had apples, but another that obviously had some, had been destroyed by bears.

Several of the apple trees along the tote road had died, so at least the trees that remain will make a good bowhunting spot for future years.

WLAGS

The Bobcat or Bobcats of WLA

I should have mentioned, if I didn’t, that last winter I got a few photos and videos of a bobcat, but they were not of a quality suitable for the blog.

Later this spring, Debbie saw a bobcat crossing our street, going from the lake to the woods side.

Then in June and July several of the neighbors, especially Heidi, told me of hearing strange screaming and other obviously animal vocal sounds. In one of those instances, Heidi heard them and a few minutes later heard the thud of feet hitting the deck where she was sitting, and she found herself face to face with a bobcat. She screamed and they both took off in opposite directions.

A few days later, I got several photos of a bobcat at J.E. Stand #2. Some were surprisingly late in the morning on two different occasions.

Bobcat Approaching Stand #2

Bobcat Approaching Stand #2

I sent them to Heidi, and she thought the coloration was different, very likely, so it is safe to say we have more than one in residence here.

One of the Bobcats of WLA

One of the Bobcats of WLA

They are some of the best photos I’ve ever gotten of a cat.

WLAGS