Lola’s Limp

For several years, Lola has occasionally limped. Off and on, usually more in cold weather, but the limp has always dissipated and eventually gone away.

Last fall, during duck season, the limp didn’t go away and continued to become more obvious.

Not wanting to admit that my dog needed help, I waited too patiently for the limp to leave. Finally, my wife, Linda convinced me that it was time to go to the vet. The vet didn’t have an answer, but once he was involved, there was no more putting off action.

X-Rays revealed some arthritis in Lola’s front right leg and also in her back. Arthritis was something with which I was familiar.

The vet suggested several paths that we could take. I was reluctant to give her treatment, but we began to give her pills that could possibly reduce inflammation. The pills may have helped a little, but the limp eventually grew more pronounced.

After a few months without significant progress, we decided to give Lola a series of shots. At first she received two each week. After four shots, we reduced the shots to one per week.

One night she vomited violently and was quite ill. After a few days of rice and cottage cheese, she was better, but we decided to quit the shots. The cure seemed worse than the problem.

In the meantime we reduced her exercise to about half of what we had normally done. Taking her for walks every other day and shortening the length by about 50%.

I also purchased a leg brace believing that restricting the motion of her right front leg would limit the effects of the arthritis. The brace seems to be helping. Here’s a video of Lola with the leg brace on.

And here’s a close up of the brace on her leg.

IMG_1846 brace on leg

The brace originally had three straps that wrapped around her leg, but it didn’t fit her right and the bottom of the brace dug into her foot. I sawed off about an inch of the brace and now use tape to wrap the bottom of the brace to her leg. It seems to be working and she’s not limping as much.

Lola’s nine now and I know from experience that all dogs suffer from some malady as they grow older. I’m just hoping that we can keep this issue under control and that she can continue to hunt next season. Time will tell.

 

 

 

A Wolf Story

In  about December of 2011, a radio-collared wolf moved into Northern California. It took over four years for a different wolf to reach my home. In between those dates, wolves have settled in California and at least one pair of wolves has raised a litter of wolf pups.

During 2012 through 2014, I became somewhat involved with wolves in different ways. While volunteering for the Mule Deer Foundation, I served on a committee of wolf Stakeholders. I did my best to make my opinions known to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as they created a Wolf Management Plan. (https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/Stakeholders)

While hunting in locations where wolves are common (Canada, Alaska but primarily Montana) I gradually became more familiar with wolves in the wild. During Montana hunts in 2013, 14 and 15 I heard wolves howl and eyed tracks almost daily. All the hunters in our camp possessed wolf tags in anticipation of having a shot opportunity.  A few hunters in our camp had sightings of wolves, but no shots were fired.

On those Montana trips I observed mule deer, elk, moose, a big-horn ram, black bear and two grizzly bears – but no wolves. On one occasion a wolf howled very close by. My guide and I expected to see the wolf, but did not. Later we found the tracks of two wolves that had been standing about 150 yards from our position.

Wolves have become a reality in my life, but I have yet to see one alive.

At the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in February of 2014, I attended a Friday afternoon auction where a trapping experience was auctioned. I purchased the trip with a bid of $1,500. The donor was Trent Packham of Groat Creek Outfitters. Trent lives about 60 miles north of  Edmonton, Alberta.

Eventually we scheduled the trip for early January in 2015 and I purchased ticket to Edmonton for January 3rd, 2015. I began building up my wardrobe of cold-weather clothes.

I expected temperatures as low as any I’d ever before experienced, but it was still a shock to my system when Trent called the day before my departure and told me that it was minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit in Edmonton. I told him I planned to be there the next day.

Then I laid awake that night and envisioned the drive in my rental car in sub-freezing weather through sixty miles of unknown territory. I have to admit that I didn’t want to take that challenge on and in the morning I cancelled my trip.

No regrets, but a couple weeks later, Trent sent me a photo of wolves he had trapped. He said that one of them was the largest wolf he had trapped up to that time. I mulled it over and concluded that maybe I should have a trophy from the trip I did not take.

I called Trent and asked him the price of the cape of that wolf. He came up with a number – $882 USD out the door. Then I asked if he knew a taxidermist who could do a good job of mounting the wolf – life size. He said that Scott Holman was the go-too guy and gave me his contact information:

SCOTT HOLMAN TAXIDERMY
661 24TH ST.
BRANDON, MANITOBA, CANADA
R7B 1X8
204 725 4474
sholman@westman.wave.ca
http://www.holmantaxidermy.com

Now it was quite a trip from Alberta to Manitoba and then to California, but this wolf puts OR7 to shame when it comes to miles traveled. The cost of taxidermy:$2205 USD. Just in case your thinking you might want to do this, here’s the breakdown.

 

Invoice Image (25) cropped

Scott sent me photos of various poses and this is the one I selected.

pose IMG_1840

Scott built the wolf and occasionally checked in. A couple months ago the wolf was finished, but then he had to wait for a CITES permit. Cost of the trip from Manitoba to Livermore: $671.04 USD.

It took about three weeks for the crate to make it through customs in North Dakota and then on to California. The crate arrived last Friday March 19, but it will be a while before I am ready to open it. Here’s a photo of the finish product as taken by Scott Holman.

wolf mountIMG_0091

Can’t hardly wait to open my present, but it may take a while to finish creating his final resting spot.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Turkey Season March 26th

IMG_1065-1 Brett with gobler resized

Son-in-law, Brett Kelly with his first gobbler – three seasons ago.

There’s a lot to talk about this spring. Rutty deer meat, the arrival of my full body wolf mount, planning my trophy room and purchase of an Open Zone tag are popular topics. But mostly the big news is that spring turkey season opens in 11 days.

We have about 12 to 15 turkeys living on our ranch. I see a few of them each time I go there, but they are not always the same birds. Of the turkeys, my best guess is that about half are adults and the rest poults.

Of the six or seven adults, I think two are mature toms and the rest are hens. Of the poults, probably half of them are Jakes, but I don’t want to shoot a Jake this year as the overall population is down. However, bagging a mature gobbler would be a satisfying feat.

Based upon past experience, the best day of the season to bag a mature Tom is on opening day. With a shotgun it is almost no contest. But, I’ve proven that that’s not the case with bow and arrow. In fact, I’m zero for forever on gobblers with my bow.

On he other hand I’ve got loads of experience (failure) and it’s almost a sure thing that I’ll get a shot opportunity on opening day.

The best tactic will be to set up my Double Bull blind in one of the known turkey hangouts with Jake and hen decoys about 15 yards away. Once a gobbler responds to my hen yelps, it’s almost a lock that he’ll come in strutting. Typically the gobbler will go eyeball to eyeball with the Jake decoy or maybe even knock it down.

At 15 yards, you’d think the shot would be a slam dunk, but turkeys are constructed differently from  anything else you can hunt with bow and arrow. Their vitals are low and back – nothing like deer. And, about half of the target is feathers. It’s easy to draw feathers without drawing blood. It’s also easy to poke a hole through a turkey and not recover the bird.

I’ve done this the wrong way before, but I plan to do it right this year.

I’ll be shooting a bunch of 15 yard practice shots during the next ten days.

 

 

 

 

Rutty Buck

The downside of hunting for big bucks during the rut is that the meat may be less desirable than deer killed before or after the rut. The buck I killed in Montana last November was rutting. And, it’s meat has an after taste that is bearable, but not good.

The buck was processed by a butcher into roasts and hamburger. I like summer sausage and the method I use is to purchase a kit made by High Mountain Seasonings. The kit calls for 80% deer meat and 20% pork. The meat is ground and mixed together. Unfortunately I had 10% beef fat added to my deer meat during the hamburger making process.

I decided to take a risk and use the hamburger straight from the package, using the ingredients and recipe I’ve use previously with success.

The resulting sausage was more like a boloney than summer sausage and definitely not as tasty, but it will work for sandwiches, so the effort was not wasted. Next I’ll be trying roasts by making summer sausage the traditional way. I believe it will be fine, but we’ll find out soon.

 

Open Zone Tag Strategy

Drove for a couple hours today and had some time to ponder strategies for using the Open Zone Tag. My first effort took place yesterday and that was to identify specific hunts that I’d really like to do.

Hunts like Anderson Flat, Goodale buck hunt and Doyle muzzle-loader hunt are well known and the statistics show that they are productive.

But it is a bit intimidating to choose a hunt in a location where you have never been. Scouting will be necessary and these places are a few hours away from home.

I finally concluded that maybe I should focus on one unit – and hunt the area on all the seasons. For example, each of these hunts takes place in a specific hunting zone and they are open to hunting during archery, muzzle loader and rifle seasons. Therefore I could start hunting and scouting a unit during the August archery season and then return during the muzzle loader hunt and the rifle hunt.

By doing this, I’ll reduce the amount of time I’ll spend in unproductive locations.

There was a time when everybody could do this,  and it’s still possible to do it in the A, B and D zones to a limited extent. It will be like a trip back in time.

It’s a thrill to have this type of anticipation.

 

California Fundraising Tag

There are many fundraising tags made available by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). These tags are a product of legislation passed by the California legislature and signed into law by the Governor.

Many conservation organizations supported the creation of these tags including, for one, The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF). So it’s appropriate that I made my fundraising tag purchase at MDF’s Santa Rosa banquet last weekend.

CDFW made the tag available and authorized that MDF Chapter to sell it at the banquet. My high bid was $10,500. Five percent will go to MDF to cover the cost of selling the tag and the remaining 95 percent goes to the Department to be used as funding for deer-related conservation and associated expenses.

Now for the good part. The tag, called an Open Zone Tag,  is basically a season pass to hunt for deer during California’s numerous seasons. With that tag in hand, I can hunt any of the hunts that I’ve drooled over for years.

For about two hours this morning I looked over old California Big Game Booklets and listed the places I’d like to go. And, I can go to many of them if I don’t pull the trigger too soon.

Yes, I could have kept on putting my name in the hat for these tags, but at my current rate of success I would probably have died without hunting any of them. Finally impatience won out.

Or, I could have made trips and photographed deer without a tag, but that wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.

I plan to set my sights high and pass up a bunch of bucks before I pull the trigger. However, I’m not passing up Mr. Big even if he’s the first deer I see.

I’m making my list which will likely include hunts in X2, X5, D6, X9a, X6 and maybe even a B zone. In search of nostalgia, I’ll probably visit a few of my old haunts. I’ll probably hunt a couple zones during the August archery season while also scouting the country  in preparation for the late season opportunities.

This is a very full plate of activities, so we’ll see how much I can actually pull off, but I’m not making other plans. I’ll likely hunt with my bow, muzzle-loader and rifle before it’s done. The early archery seasons start in mid-August and rifle opportunities continue almost to the end of December.

I plan to keep notes and post them here. That will be part of the fun.