Tag Archives: deer

A walk in the big woods.

It was a beautiful early fall day on Friday so I decided that my dog Mikey and I needed to explore the big woods to see how things were progressing towards autumn.  I always take a bag to collect fall things – acorns and pretty leaves, bits of lichen and moss.  Our property is a mix of gently rolling hills and streams with some acres of hardwood (red and white oaks) up on a hill.  It is one of the highest places around and one of my favorite escapes.

Beginning of the walk through the east bean field.

I usually don’t head up to the woods in the deep summer – too buggy and too many weeds. So I was eager to see what had happened since I’d last been up to the big woods last spring.  Of course, this called for long pants and long sleeves, and some bug spray.  Dang, I hate chiggers and ticks!  And biting flies!

An old weathered tree stump on the dry creek bed.

Through the hickory grove. Love the way the light strikes the dead cedar on the left. My companion Mikey waits almost around the bend. He’s very patient.

Another almost dry creek bed. Look closely and you can see plenty of deer traffic through here, especially some very large prints.

I’m always fascinated by interesting patterns of fungus and lichen.

It’s a little early for many of the leaves to have changed color here but there were the beginning signs.  And, as expected, the creeks were really dried up after the past few weeks without rain.  Normally everything is very lush, even in the deepest of summer.

Mikey loves to go into the woods and runs about 20 feet for my every step.  Of course, one will never see any wildlife as he chases it all off.  But I eagerly look for signs and wasn’t disappointed to see some pretty big deer prints in the mud near one of the creeks.

Getting ready to cross under the powerline. Usually this is a cleared path but since we’ve added another path, this one has grown up over the summer. The weeds were taller than me! I’m heading towards that dead tree on the hill on the upper right.

Wading through chest high weeds, I appreciated the brilliant colors of this late patch of goldenrod.

I actually just walked through this (looking back). Path is totally grown over with some fierce briers, snatching at my hat and clothes. I can’t imagine the early pioneers and explorers wading through this kind of terrain, although deep woods really have little undergrowth. This is caused by the open spaces that were created when some trees were taken out.

Reached my “resting” chair, an old chair that we dragged up into the woods on a favorite lookout space. I had to clear the weeds off just to sit down.

Over the past 30 years, we have done some selective timbering.  The last time was a few years ago and a new path was cut to the big woods on the hill.  The old path had grown over but I wasn’t prepared for just how much it had grown over since last spring.  I almost got myself into more work than I anticipated as I had to practically hack my way through the overgrown weeds and briers.  It was a relief to come around to the new path (and mowed) area. I sure don’t know how the pioneers did it except that real heavy woods don’t have much undergrowth.

We’ve hacked our way through the briers and have come out on the downside of the loop with the cleared new path. Yay!

Now the hiking is much easier, exactly what I was anticipating.

Coming out of the top woods, heading back under the powerlines.

The view from the top of the woods on the hill. If you enlarge this photo, you’ll see farms in the distance which is about a mile or more away.

Easy walking through the lower woods. These are mostly hardwoods, red and white oak.

Poor Mikey was as tired and thirsty as I was. I have never seen him lie down to drink. I think he really wanted to roll in the water on the cool sidewalk.

Mikey and I had a good hike (about a mile and a half for me) and much more for him.  But we were both exhausted by the time we returned to the house.  An immediate shower was called for to help prevent any chiggers or ticks from digging in.  So far so good.  Lots of good material for future paintings and a pleasant way to spend a fall morning.

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Night visitors

Living out in the near wilderness, we are often beset with furry critters set on eating our produce. Our 90 acres is more like a big park than a real farm. We don’t mind sharing but…there’s plenty for the animals to eat without invading the garden and orchards.

Recently we noticed that something was munching on the fallen apples. So we set up the deer cam in the orchard. My goodness, but there is a LOT of activity out there. Plenty of deer, lots of raccoons (and babies), and one slinky coyote. This isn’t counting all the rabbits and squirrels that set off the camera.

And for those of you who think raccoons are cute little masked bandits, think again. They are vicious creatures who just enjoy the pleasure of killing a whole flock of chickens in a single night.

Anyway, we’re really trying to capture a photo of a bobcat or mountain lion rumored to be living in these parts. We’ll move the deer cam into the woods soon and see what we will see.

Day visitors - a whole herd of deer munching on peaches  8:45 a.m.

Day visitors – a whole herd of deer munching on peaches 8:45 a.m.

Big buck 10:15 p.m.

Big buck 10:15 p.m.

Raccoon stealing bait from trap 5:08 a.m.

Raccoon stealing bait from trap 5:08 a.m.

Wylie Coyote 1:43 a.m.

Wylie Coyote 1:43 p.m.

Evening muncher 6:45 p.m.

Evening muncher 6:45 p.m.

Hunting season

Deer hunting season started here yesterday.  This is with guns.  Bow season is a lot longer.  Lots of booms in the woods.  I stay close to the house, in the studio.  No biking for me for a few weeks.

When I lived in the city, I always felt sorry for poor Bambi being shot by the big mean hunters.  Since I’ve lived here in the country for over 25 years, I’ve had a total reversal of attitude.  The white tail deer was totally wiped out in this state and only reintroduced in the 1940s.  Without predators, the population has exploded.  No matter what your thoughts about hunting, something has to be done.  (NO, I do NOT want wolves to be reintroduced!)

Deer ravish the understory forest growth, decimating native plant populations.  They can jump any fence and are a huge concern for farmers’ crops.  Overpopulation make them susceptible to many diseases, some harmful to humans.  But worst of all are the significant road hazards they cause.  Rarely does our daily paper not report at least one deer vs auto accident.  Usually this time of year it’s two or three.  Between my husband and two sons, they have hit a total of six deer, once two at a one time.  Of course, that car was totaled but fortunately no one was hurt.

Venison is also a very lean meat.  All of the local hunters I know actually eat what they kill, or even take the meat to the local food bank.  I don’t know anyone around here who is a trophy hunter although there is plenty bragging when a big buck is bagged.

Our ninety acres is mostly a big park, not much of  a farm other than the garden and some fields we rent out.  However, we don’t like trespassers and only allowed limited hunting on the property.  Most city folks have no idea whose property they are on or whether or not there is a house behind that copse of trees.  We’d rather not take chances with armed (and often drunk) idiots.

Anyway, life in the country is not always bucolic or quiet.  It’s more often man against nature…and nature is winning.