Thursday, March 28, 2019


     Sometimes you don’t see them for months or even a whole year. More likely you will hear them, but sometimes it is a sound not heard for months. Other times you will see them once or twice in the same week and hear them nightly for a month, but then they disappear again. Sometimes, on a warm summer evening, we've heard their screeching on three different hillsides.
     Coyotes are everywhere these days, hiding right in front of us. They are adaptable and clever, and reproduce readily. Around Camp Grouse the packs seem to follow the snowshoe rabbits. If there are lots of rabbits the coyotes soon will appear. For months we haven’t heard them, but last week they returned to sing us a chorus.
     The sound isn’t like any canine baying or barking that I can imagine, but more like the screaming and screeching of violent arguing zombies. Our dogs take notice and sit up, or even hide under our bed. Some nights it’s so distant you pull up the blankets and try to decide if you are really hearing them. Other nights it is so close to the house the volume drowns out conversation indoors.
     Yesterday the ravens were circling a cluster of softwoods at the edge to our snow-buried lawn. Late in afternoon I put on snowshoes to investigate. Ravens and crows protested and a coyote ran off as I approached. Little remained of what had been a healthy deer, a doe in her prime. She lay less than two hundred feet from our home. She would produce no fawn this year.
     Last night the coyotes sang loudly. It probably was a celebration and feasting party. Today there are no ravens or crows, so I guess the carcass is gone.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Where is Spring?

     It is Saturday, March 23. The spring equinox passed a couple of days ago. Oldman winter apparently missed the memo. Outside, new snow is piled higher than it has been in any one storm all winter. For almost twenty-four hours it has piled up, a heavy snow with a high water content. The deck has been shoveled off multiple times and gauging the amount is difficult. It appears Camp Grouse has about eighteen inches of new snow on top of about three feet that was already on the ground.
     Now the snow has stopped and the wind rocks the trees. To the south a fox barks on the hillside, as it has for the last few days. The songbirds have returned to the feeders and a squirrel dared a visit to our deck. Our bird dogs are bored and watch the world outside through the sliding glass doors.
     In spite of snowshoes, my feet sink more than a foot into the new snow when I follow where the snow was packed before the storm. Off trail I sink well above my knees. Without snowshoes walking is impossible. The two hundred foot trip to the compost pile brought on quite a sweat.
     The trees rock in the wind, but the snow doesn’t shake off. How long will our power stay on? The ravens are enjoying the wind and riding the currents over the hill to the north. If the power goes out we are ready, with water stored and the woodstove cranking.
     It is pretty, a spring snow. Tomorrow the temperatures are supposed to be near 40 degrees and the snow will settle and fall from the trees. Somewhere a male ruffed grouse is standing on a log getting ready to start drumming.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

They Don’t Quit…

The Humane Society of the United States will chip away at our hunting until there is none left. We have to keep up the fight.

Chara pointing a planted bobwhite during a hunt test.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Ban Field Trials?

     A bill in New York, AB 722, would ban all hunting contests and field trials for dogs. It is supported (of course) by the Humane Society of the United States, whose long term goal is to end all hunting. You can read more about the bill in the link below.

More on Neutering

     The negative side effects of neutering just keep piling up. Here is a link to more information.

     In the United States the vast majority of dogs are neutered or spayed. In Europe things are much different. Only one percent of the dogs in Sweden are done and in Norway it is against the law unless there is a health reason to make it necessary. About half of the dogs in the United Kingdom are altered, while in the United States concern has grown among dog owner’s, particularly owners of working breeds.
     Much of the concern has been with growth and bone structure, but now finding are hinting at emotional and aggression issues.
     This article is worth a read.