When is a Snake Gorgeous?

Gorgeous? A snake. Yes a snake can be gorgeous. It was shown to me a couple days ago when I came across a gopher snake in the road.

DSC_0103[1] gopher snake

This has been a good year for gopher snakes. Last year was a rattle snake year and I saw about ten rattle snakes for every gopher snake. But this year I’ve see only one rattle snake in the road, but many gopher snakes.

The latest snake was spectacular. The photos I have don’t show his true beauty. He was at least five feet long and the sunlight shimmered on his beautiful hide. He was spectacular. Here are a few of the photos of this marvelous critter.


Click on the photo to enlarge. I hope you can appreciate what a spectacular creature this is. When I touched him on the tail, he turned and departed into the tall grass. Unlike rattle snakes, he was a docile creature.

More Fawns?

There are obviously fewer deer on our ranch now, than five years ago. The drought had a big impact on the health of the deer herd. At the peak of the drought, we found deer carcasses on the ground, something that is seldom seen as usually deer die and are eaten by predators and/or scavengers immediately.

As a result of the drought, predators also took a big hit. We have fewer coyotes on our ranch than we had five years ago. Probably mountain lions are fewer as well, but we have no data to support any of these suppositions.

As I snapped a photo of a young fawn, I wondered about fawn survival this year. I hope and believe that it will be greater due to improved habitat and reduced predation. That is the way nature is supposed to work.

DSC_0037[1] fawn ranch road

Scouting Lassen County

Spent some time, last week, driving 395 east of Susanville. Of particular interest was the area near Doyle where the Doyle muzzle loading rife hunt takes place in late November.

Also of interest is X 5B, north of Honey Lake. Here are a couple photos of the country.

Click to enlarge.

Note the tall bitter brush in the foreground. This country has some of the best bitter brush anywhere. The Mountain in the background (on the other side of Honey Lake) is Skedaddle Mountain. Should be some bucks up there. Heading north from Skedaddle Mountain is oodles of deer country bounded by Highway 395 on the west and Nevada on the east. A late season mule deer hunt in that country sounds very attractive.

Further south on 395 there is tremendous winter range on both sides of the road.

The top photo is of the mountains west of 395, while the lower two photos are of the winter range east of 395. The Nevada border is near the crest of the eastern mountains.

Lots of scouting to do in the process of planning my hunts.

Eagle Fight

On my way home from the ranch today, I came upon two eagles that I believe I’ve seen before. The first time I saw them was about a month ago and they seemed to be fighting over food.

Today I came around a corner in nearly the same spot and the two eagles were on the ground next to each other about 150 yards off the road. One of them, a bald eagle, took off, but the second eagle stayed on the ground.

Sensing that I may get a photo opportunity, I rolled down my window and grabbed my camera, which was ready for action. And, it was a good thing.

The bald eagle flew over my truck and I was happy to get a couple photos of the bird in flight.

DSC_0040[1] bald eagle soaring

The golden eagle remained on the ground for a moment and then took off with the bald eagle in pursuit.

DSC_0040[1] golden eagle

It appeared that the golden eagle was carrying prey.

DSC_0047[1] golden eagle fleeing with prey

A couple ravens joined in the melee.

DSC_0058[1] eagles and ravens

Then the bald eagle went on the attach.

DSC_0059[1] eagles engage

DSC_0060[1] eagles fight over squirrel

They fought over a ground squirrel untilĀ  it fell towards the ground.

DSC_0061[1] ground squirrel falls

The fight continued as the birds plummeted downward.

DSC_0062[1] eagles continue to fall

Eventually the golden eagle recovered it’s food. But it may have been injured.

DSC_0063[1] golden recovers squirrel

The bald eagle was left to watch.

DSC_0069[1] bald eagle watches

Not sure what happened next as I had to get home for my own dinner.



Wolf Sighting

I’ve thought that my chances of seeing a wolf in my lifetime were pretty good.

I’ve been in wolf country fairly often. British Columbia, Montana, Alberta and Alaska are the places where I expected to see a wolf. I’ve heard them in Montana three years in a row and observed tracks almost daily while hunting. I’ve seen wolf tracks in Alaska, but not wolves.

Yesterday I observed my first wolf while driving west on Highway 89 on the south side of Lake Almanor. California !

I’ve had my share of inaccurate sightings in my life time-just ask my brother, Rob, who pays no attention to me when I look up and shout, “peregrine!” Only to realize a moment later that it was some other raptor.

However, when it comes to this wolf, it was a no-brainer, so before I start talking myself into thinking I was wrong, I’ll explain why I was right.

A wolf running across a road is a better view than seeing one running in the woods. The light was perfect, but in the woods, the shadows and trees could have made it difficult to be sure.

It didn’t look like any live animal I’ve ever seen before. It was a very large canine, and it loped across the road with long bounds. It was about the same size as the wolf I have mounted life-size in my office, on which I’ve had plenty of time to practice my visuals.

wolf mountIMG_0091

This black wolf (the one in my office) came from Alberta. And, it is a big one. The wolf I saw yesterday appeared to be just as large, if not larger, and it was gray.

I reported the sighting to CDFW and also at the Forest Service Office in Chester. Figured they’d be interested. They seemed so. I also placed a pin on my IPhone GPS and emailed the exact location to the interested parties.

I searched the edge of the road to see if I could find it’s tracks, but could not. If I hadn’t been on my way home, I would have invested more time in follow up searching, but you don’t really need tracks to know what you saw.

Hard to believe that nobody else has seen this wolf.

Apparently it is a lone male wolf, out searching for a female. The deer zone he was in the C Zone and there are currently plenty of deer for him to eat. Also, there are plenty of dead deer along the sides of the highways. I saw at least one or two every day while I was at Almanor.

It would be nice if somebody else sees the wolf to confirm my sighting, but if not, I’ll be the only one who knows for sure. And I’m convinced it could have been nothing else.