Spring Days at the Ranch

Drove to the ranch on Friday. Used the pick and shovel to clean the roads and cut back a fallen oak that was blocking the road. Then we glassed for turkeys, but found none. Shot my bow and fixed a problem before it got too dark to shoot. I was glad I had my backup bow, as I had to swich the arrow rest from my backup bow to the one I planned to hunt with. I’m shooting a Q32 with a whiskerbisket. Apparently the rest got bent when I crowed too much stuff into my bow case.

The weather was perfect and everything was gorgeous. I even had three hens walk by within 30 yards, but the gobbler that was with them headed off before it got too me. Maybe it got nervous. Who knows for sure.

I took advantage of the good weather and numerous photo ops to make the most of the trip. Here are some shots of the scenery, wild flowers and wildlife.

ranch-spring-day-018-fiddle-neck Fiddlenecks

ranch-spring-day-024-red-maids-cropped-and-resizedRed maids

ranch-spring-day-036-shooting-stars-cropped-and-resized1Shooting stars were everywhere. 

ranch-spring-day-116-johnny-jump-ups-cropped-and-resizedAs were Johnny jump ups.

ranch-spring-day-076-native-grasses-cropped-and-resizedOn some locations on the ranch, native bunch grasses dominate the hillsides.

ranch-spring-day-063-stink-bells-resizedThe stinkbell is a rare plant. We have at least a few dozen of them. (I cheated on this one – took it the week before but couldn’t resist including it.)

ranch-spring-day-095-macho-fence-lizard-cropped-and-resizedThis fence lizard was quite macho.

ranch-spring-day-106-deer-on-ridge-resizedA doe fed onto the ridge as I headed home.

ranch-spring-day-121-turkey-struts-near-barn-cropped-and-resizedAnd, I spotted my first gobbler of the spring.

ranch-spring-day-129-canvas-back-and-mallards-cropped-and-resizedThe last photo of the days was of this canvas back duck cruzing past a couple mallards sunning on the shore of a roadside pond.

It was a good trip. One of the best aspects of spring turkey hunting is the beauty of spring.

A Sunday Morning Reminder that Turkey Season Opens this Weekend.

ranch-road-gobblers-cropped-and-resized

Went to the ranch last Saturday. Followed two botanists around while they searched for native grasses and other interesting plants. It was quite interesting, but the whole time they were looking at plants, I kept one eye turned towards the canyon below where most of our turkeys hang out. So far this winter I have yet to see any turkeys and it has me bothered.

On Sunday morning I woke at first light listening to honkers making spring sounds in the gravel pit behind my house. As I lay there I heard another unmistakable sound, a turkey yelp.

I listened and it came again. Yelp, yelp yelp…..yelp, yelp..put, put..yelp, yelp, yelp, yelp, yelp.. I climbed out of  bed and began to search for the source of the sound. It came from the north, the direction of houses. Our neighbors across the street have a large oak tree in their side yard. I glanced into the upper branches of the oak and there stood a turkey hen. A closer look revieled two more turkeys on lower branches. Linda brought coffee and I laid there drinking my morning coffee while watching the three big birds stretch and ward off crows.

They were in no hurry to come down and probably stayed in the tree for an hour. Finally they glided down and out of site. Time to break out my turkey gear. We’ll be hunting this weekend.

Nature Quiz

Took a little trip to the ranch this week and came home with photos of a few early spring wildflowers. They’re not your run of the mill favorites and I didn’t know for sure the names of any of them. Nor did I know the name of the only butterfly species I found.

Therefore you can take the quiz and don’t feel bad if you can’t name these. The plants were all less than a foot tall and the flowers all less then the diameter of a nickel.

Here you go. As I figure them out I’ll post them. You can also comment with your answers if you like. Maybe it will help my research.

1. another-white-wildflower

2. chaparal-butterfly-3-2009

3. prominent-white-flower

4. purple-and-yellow-wildflower-3-2009

5. purple-flower-3-2009

Ok. There you go. Of course I have the advantage because I saw them in person. I’ll be refering to the guide books and also my biologist friend, but my brother may already know them all as he’s on top of this stuff.

400 Acre Missoui Hunting Ranch For Sale

Got an email from Perry Cox in Missoui. Perry is one of four partners in a deer/turkey hunting ranch in Northern Missoui.  They own 1/4 shares. They have formed an LLC and have a written agreement regarding ownership and hunting rights. They also receive CRP money to offset expenses.

The hunters stay in a metal building that has four bedrooms and two baths which is located on the property.

Here are a couple photos he sent me.

deerpics-missouri1-resized

Looks like the deer cam is working. Perry says they manage the ranch for hunting and plant food plots.

perrycoxwhitetailphotocropped

If I remember right, this is an archery killed buck. Looks pretty nice to me.

Perry needs to sell his interest and is asking $150,000. If you want to hear more you can reach Perry at (903)216-7284 or email him at perrycox@hotmail.com

A Few Shots of Mayberry Last Weekend 2009

last-weekend-jam-session

Rob and Wes tried to downplay the significance of killing ducks by holding a jam session.

 

rich-and-lola-last-weekend

If you’re  serious about duck hunting, you may be interested in some of the items that I believe are valuable in the marsh. 1.) Note that my Bennelli pump is camoflauged. I like a pump because I can stick it in the water and not worry. I like the camo for the obvious reason. 2.) The walking stick is an addition this year as my balance isn’t as good as it used to be and I was sticking the shotgun into the mud too often. 3.) The tule stool is better than a bucket. 4.) Wool shirt is the way to go. 5.) You can’t see it but there’s a ghile suit in my pack. 6.) The pack is water tight and it’s nice because I can set it in the water and my stuff stays dry. 7.) The mallard call is a Paul Kingyon double-reed call. It’s a great call, but old and it sticks too much. 8.) The cap has built in head lamp. Very nice. 9.) I carry only one or two decoys (mallard) any more. 9.) The dog is two year old Lola and she was nearly perfect during the last two weeks of the season – retrieving almost everything that went down. 10.) If you look close you can see my dog stand. It keeps Lola out of the cold water while we hunt. It is a turkey stool that you can purchase from Cabela’s for about $10 and I’ve lengthened the legs with electrical conduit to the length I need. It is very light and Lola has no problem standing on it. (Credit goes to Joe DiDonato who created this concept.) 11.)Note the red plants at the waterline behind me. That’s smartweed, probably the duck’s favorite food during the last weeks of the season, especially if it is cold.

 

see-you-next-season

Fred says, “See you next season.”

 

The Trout of LaCosta Creek

LaCosta Creek is a tributary of Alameda Creek and is blocked from San Francisco  Bay by Turner Dam at San Antonio Reservoir. Trout in San Antonio Reservoir spawn in LaCosta Creek during the winter months.

Very little rainfall fell during December and January, but the rains of February and March have produced a run of large rainbow trout from the reservoir. Whether these  trout are related to the steelhead trout of Alameda Creek is a mystery to me, but I’m sure there is significant genetic data somewhere, as biologists have been investigating these fish for years.

Here are some photos taken last week.

spawning-cropped-and-resized

It appears that eggs are present at the rear of the female fish (the one on the right). Note that this male is quite large (thick) and his back is out of the water most of the time.

spawning-2-nudge-cropped-and-resized

The male would occasionally nudge the female in an effort to instigate spawning behavior. When the female began to release eggs should would turn on her side and flop wildly. Unfortunately this lively action didn’t result in any useful photos.

spawning-3-male-cropped-and-resized

This male was very large for LaCosta Creek probably about four pounds – maybe more.

spawning-cropped-and-resized1

Once again the male nudges the female. He is probably double her size.

Some of the fry manage to move up into the deep canyons where apparently they manage to survive through the hot summer days and also avoid predators. Occasionally the large trout get trapped in the creek as creek levels subside, but if that happens, their doomed as none of the creek can support large fish through the summer months.