Another First for Brett

My son-in-law, Brett has had several firsts during the last few hunting seasons. First duck, first deer and now first gobbler.

It was the day before Easter when Rob and I took Brett up to the ranch to see if we could find him a mature tom turkey. We were lucky.

As we entered our property we could see a gobbler strutting for hens a couple hundred yards from the road.

After a careful approach and thoughtful setup, the bird came to Rob’s calling and Brett knocked him down.

“He came in so easy that I figured you’d tell me I couldn’t shoot him,” said Brett, comparing the turkey hunt to other hunts where we wouldn’t make it easy for him.

In this case we couldn’t pass up the big tom as he strutted in front of the jake decoy only 25 yards away.

Brett Kelly with his first gobbler.

Brett Kelly with his first gobbler.

Another Day at the Ranch

Yesterday was a good day at the ranch.

The day got off on a good note when I spotted a group of tule elk bulls feeding along the side of highway 84. I did you U-turn and snapped a few photos.

Not often does one see tule elk along a major highway.

Not often does one see tule elk along a major highway.

Here they are again.

Here they are again.

Impressive animals.

Arriving about 8 AM, the first item on the agenda was a whipsnake survey. Unfortunately I found only a western fence liizard for my efforts, but did snap a couple more photos.

Basking in the morning sun, every rock had either a meadow lark, horned lark or some other bird on top of it.

Basking in the morning sun, every rock had either a meadow lark, horned lark or some other bird on top of it.

A morning dove perched on the dead limbs of a blue oak.

Morning doves are sleek.

Morning doves are sleek.

It has been a good year for some wildflowers.

The Mariposa lily is a plant that has done well this season.

The mariposa lily is a plant that has done well this season.

We had a crew of eager helpers

We had a crew of eager helpers.

This larvae has almost no dorsal fin, shrinking gills and muscle development in his legs. We expect that he will leave the pond within a few days to a couple weeks.

This larvae has almost no dorsal fin, shrinking gills and muscle development in his legs. We expect that he will leave the pond within a few days to a couple weeks.

On the way home, a bobcat walked across the road in front of me. I snapped a photo before he went out of site. I think I’ve photographed him before.

Took this photo from about 100 yards.

Took this photo from about 100 yards.

Pumped About Next Fall

Set up some great hunts for next fall. With the day approachingĀ  when I’ll no longer be able to climb mountains and ride horses, I look forward to the fall with impatience.

Last hunting season wore me down, especially the eight day hunt in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. But now my enthusiasm is renewed and I’m ready for another go-round. One of the keys is to keep climbing my local hill on a regular basis.

This is the area where I missed a big buck last Novermber.

This is the area where I missed a big buck last Novermber.

I’ll be back in the BOB again next November, hunting with Montana Safaris and looking for the big wilderness buck that has eluded me the last two years.

I’ve put in for a Shiras moose tag in Idaho and if I get drawn, I’ll be packing into the Lolo Wilderness during September. That’s the time when the moose will be rutting, it’s also archery deer and elk season. If I get drawn, I’ll also be looking to hunt deer with my bow and I’ll also be looking into whether I can purchase an elk tag as well. May have to go for two weeks.

I paid $4,500 for a Nevada landowner tag the year I shot this buck. It's still my biggest muley buck.

I paid $4,500 for a Nevada landowner tag the year I shot this buck. It’s still my biggest muley buck.

However, just in case I don’t get drawn, I’ve got a back-up plan to hunt mountain goats with Kiff Covert in BC. If that happens it will be with rifle and I’ll also have a deer tag in case we come upon a worthy mule deer.

The usual smorgasbord of draw tags has also been applied for in Nevada and California. That is another unknown, but something good could happen and if it does, I’ll be hunting closer to home as well.

Who knows what the duck season will be bring this year, but whatever it is, I plan to be there. Even bought a new O/U shotgun. Can’t wait to test it out on the pond.

At the end of the month, the schedule will begin to clarify and my excitement continue to build. Anticipation is one of the key elements why hunting is such a great pastime.

California Tiger Salamander Larvae Stages

Here are some photos of California tiger salamander (CTS) larvae in various stages of development.

Click on photo to get a close up view.

This 60 mm larvae has legs, but they are useless.

This 60 mm larvae has legs, but they are useless.

This larvae has complete long gills, weak legs and is not showing signs of morphing into an adult.

This larvae has complete long gills, weak legs and is not showing signs of morphing into an adult.

This larvae is about ready to leave the pond. It is taking on adult coloration, has strong legs and it's gills are gone. It cannot swim well at this point and is breathing air.

This larvae is about ready to leave the pond. It is taking on adult coloration, has strong legs and it’s gills are gone. It cannot swim as well at this point and is breathing air.

This metamorph was found on top of a ridge on a gravel road, about 150 yards directly up a steep hill from the nearest possible breeding site.

The above salamander morphed into an adult shortly before this photo was taken. It still has some of the coloration of the larvae.

White-front Geese

Each winter, white-front geese move into the California Delta in large numbers. By late January they begin to build up their numbers on Sherman Island. By April, the congregation of geese at Sherman Island can be quite large.

(Click to enlarge photo)

Waterfowl populations have flourished under close monitoring by hunter-funded programs.

Waterfowl populations have flourished under close monitoring by hunter-funded programs.

Thirty-five years ago, white-front goose numbers were so low that the daily limit was lowered to one white-front per hunter. Due to successful conservation efforts the limit this past season was increased to ten per day.

Click on the link below to view a recent video of white-front geese (aka specklebelly geese) as the gather in preparation for migration.

They are quite vocal.

Grinding Rock Sites – Ohlone Indian Artifacts

The main Indian artifacts found on our ranch are grinding rocks where the Ohlone Indians ground acorns and other edible seeds into meal or flour.

The sites we’ve found are always near or on the top edge of a ridge with a view. The sites always have large rock outcroppings with flat areas large enough for several people to sit together and there is always shade.

Whenever we go to one of these sites it’s easy to see why they were selected. The view raises one’s spirit and the shade protects the grinder from the hot sun.

There is usually a spring near by. Sometimes these sites are quite large and it appears that the Ohlones may have had an entire camp in the immediate area.

The largest site I’ve seen was overlooking La Costa Creek on the south side of Rowell Ridge. The rock outcrop there is so large that the drop off from the edge of the ledge is straight down for over 100 feet.

This past weekend we found a site that I had not seen before. It has at least five ginding holes. The site is on the north side of Rowell Ridge and has a commanding view of the Livermore Valley, Mount Diablo, Brushy Peak and the Black Hills.

My brother Rob and son-in-law, Brett, joined me for a turkey hunt. Afterwards we scouted for artifacts. This is a perfect site.

My brother Rob and son-in-law, Brett, joined me for a turkey hunt. Afterwards we scouted for artifacts. This is a perfect site. Mount Diablo can be seen just behind Rob and Brushy Peak is behind Brett who is standing in the shade.There is a grinding hole at Rob’s feet where my Swiss Army knife is laying on the rock.

We found five wholes. Here they are.

DSC_0087 grinding hole

DSC_0090 grinding holeDSC_0094 grinding hole

DSC_0095 grinding holeDSC_0096 grinding hole

I guess you could say, “When you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.” Keep in mind that there are other critters that seek out the same sites.

Western fence lizards are common in the rock outcrops.

Western fence lizards are common in the rock outcrops.

Blacktail deer often bed down near ridge tops for safety and hide in the shade. This one popped up about 15 yards from me as I searched for grinding rocks.

Black-tail deer often bed down near ridge tops for safety and hide in the shade. This one popped up about 15 yards from me as I searched for grinding rocks.

Ground squirrels commonly live in these rock outcroppings.

Ground squirrels commonly live in these rock outcroppings.

We often find rattlesnakes in the same places are grinding rocks.

We often find rattlesnakes in the same places are grinding rocks. This was one we saw in the same rock outcrop as the grinding holes.

Springtime Tom Time

Once again the turkeys are doing there thing. Drove the vineyards this morning and found a few birds along the edges of the vineyards south of town. Here are a few of them.

Here is where I found them. Not far off Vallecitos Road.

Here is where I found them. Not far off Vallecitos Road.

These guys were mimicking each other.

These guys were mimicking each other.

Looking big.

Looking big.

Here's a trio.

Here’s a trio.

Photographed this hen earlier at the VA hospital.

Photographed this hen earlier at the VA hospital.