Mock Turkey Hunt

Turkeys were spread out in smaller groups yesterday – a good sign if you’re a turkey hunter. With the big flocks divided up, it’s a lot easier to find a callable bird.

For me, it was not a hunt. But, I couldn’t resist bringing my box call. I stopped above camp and made a few calls. Nothing.

When I reached camp, I again pulled out the box. One set of yelps and a gobbler answered from the property to the west. I moved to a controlling position overlooking where the gobble had come from and sat down.

Then I yelped again. The gobbler answered immediately. He wasn’t far away. I waited. He gobbled on his own twice. He was coming.

After a period of minutes, I yelped and he answered. Now closer. I scratched the box softly a couple times. He didn’t answer, so I waited to see him.

He appeared at about 50 yards and walked up hill directly towards me. He came to 30, then 20. I had my camera up, but since I was nearly laying down, grasses twigs were preventing me from getting a good focus.

Finally at ten yards, I got a pretty good focus and snapped a decent photo.

DSC_0962 wanna fight

Mr. Ugly and a serious fighter, this bird looked like he’d been to war.

Then, because he couldn’t get through the fence next to me, he turned and walked down the hill about 40 yards to a better pathway. There I got some good photos as he strutted and wondered where the calling hen had gone.

His harem of four hens followed about 30 yards behind him.

DSC_0995 member of the harem

At this point there wasn’t much left to do, except wait for him to leave so I could begin doing the chores I was there for. After I while he continued on this way looking for the mystery hen.

Apparently the four hens that followed him didn’t need his services any more on this day. Not sure why they were hanging out with him.

 

Ample Water, More Wildlife

Yesterday I drove to the ranch to do some clean-up. With camera in hand, I stopped a few times to take photos. The day started with an encounter with turkeys just past the first gate.

The sun was high, but one photo stood out over the rest, despite the imperfect light.

DSC_0833 cropped hen and gobbler

Down the road a ways, a pair of mallards were doing their version of reproduction. With all the rain, one would think the local mallard crop will be good this year.

DSC_0835 mallard pair

At a pond near the second gate, bullfrogs were warming in the sun at the water’s edge.

DSC_0853 bull frog cropped

Enemies of many native species, including native frog species, bullfrogs dominate any pond they inhabit. Fortunately we don’t have bullfrogs on our ranch.

DSC_0859 plain titmouse cropped

As I walked turned to step into my truck, I was distracted by a tree swallow landing in an oak tree nearly overhead. After several attempts to photograph the tree swallow, I realized that I was getting nowhere. Then this plain titmouse appeared and posed for a photo. Seems like there’s a titmouse pair for each oak tree.

Wildflowers were looking good. With the cooler-than-average weather, the annual grasses have not dominated and the broad-leaf plants will win the battle for sunlight this year. They’ve off to a good start.

DSC_0898 guarding the waters edge coped

On the way home, I couldn’t resist another bullfrog photo. These guys are the guardians of the water’s edge. Their legs also fry up nicely.

DSC_0902 three deer cropped

Looks like two young bucks and a doe peeking at me from below the road.

Red-tailed hawks were on the prowl. Some in the air and others hunting the easy way.

DSC_0915 Canada goose cropped

Maybe it’s the extra water that has more than normal numbers of Canada geese hanging around the local ponds.

After leaving the gravel road, I passed through some local vineyards to see what might be available. Found a lone pair of hens, avoiding the crowd and then a big crowd of gobblers strutting aggressively.

It was a great day to be out and about.

It’s Strutting Time

Turkeys in bunches. The breeding season is in full swing. This is the time that often frustrates turkey hunters. You can hunt all day without finding a callable bird.

The turkeys I found today were in two groups. Got a few decent photos. Should have got more, but things kept going wrong.

To get really good turkey pictures everything has to go right. These are the best of the day. The best shots came in the late afternoon when the sun was lower in the sky.

In a couple weeks, the gobblers will be easier to call in. Maybe I’ll get out the camo and box call. Haven’t shot a turkey in a few years.

 

Ranch Photos in late February

Drove out to the ranch last Saturday to do some cleanup around the yard. Took photos on the way in and the way out. Here are a few of them. Click on them to read the captions.

 

 

Conversation in the Vineyard.. schedule

This is the schedule of events for the Conservation in the Vineyards program as they stand on Tuesday February 26, 2019.

National Endowment Logo 3

May 2:  6:00 PM to 9:00 PM Arrivals

There will be a reception and hosted cocktail party at the Vineyard Inn. The hospitality room is on the ground floor. Just ask. It won’t be hard to find.

Friday May 3: Various tours as follows.

Breakfast will be ready at 7 AM for the early starters.

8:00 AM – 12 PM. Trophy Room Tour The first van will depart between eight and 8:30 and it will take nearly an hour to arrive at Rich Pierce’s trophy room in Clayton. Box lunch will be provided. Return by noon. (Limited to 20 people)

38 inch mule deer cropped and resized

This 38 1/2 in wide buck is one of the larger bucks in Rich’s collection, maybe not the largest.

9:00 AM – 2:00 PM  Friday Ohlone Conservation Bank. Rob Fletcher will load his truck up with four guests and take them on a tour of the Ohlone Preserve Conservation Bank. This is a great time of year to view butterflies and wildflowers. (Limited to four guests)

11:00 AM Friday: Holm Ranch. Load up and travel to the Holm Ranch where former Livermore Chapter Chair Bob Holm will show you some of the best blacktail habitat in the East Bay Area. He’ll also provide a group of 8 people with a barbecue lunch. (Limited to 8 guests)

Emilee and (dad) Greg Selna Deer

Greg and Emilee Selna with a Holm- Ranch buck killed on a donated youth hunt.

11:00 AM until 4:00 PM Friday. Wine tasting at Livermore Valley wineries. Passes and transportation will be provided.

1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Friday Tour a ranch and wind farm with owner Janice Marciel. Come learn about Wildlife Barriers in the Altamont Hills – wind turbines, freeways and aqueducts. The Altamont Hills are home to many threatened and endangered species.

Friday and Saturday Tour Leader Janice Marciel

Janice Marciel will lead a tour of her ranch and wind farm.

Friday Evening 5:00 PM until 9:00 PM McGrail Vineyards

Social gathering at McGrail Vineyards. Hosted McGrail wine, heavy appetizers and a sausage table with some of your favorite venison – deer and elk.

This is a great opportunity to spend time one-on-one with MDF leaders, biologists, and land managers while trying out Livermore wines. Enjoy the fabulous view of the surrounding East Bay hills.

Saturday May 4. Open Space Tour 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM and load up the 4X4 pickups at 8 AM. This will be a caravan into Southeast Alameda County. The tour will be guided by many local experts and MDF supporters.

Here are some of the things you’ll be looking for:

 

 

 

The tour will cover three different management regimes. Although these open space lands may look the same, the underlying management goals are significantly different.

1.  The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission manages watershed lands throughout the Bay Area. Read about it.  SF PUC San Antonio Reservoir

The mission of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is to provide their customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that is inclusive of environmental and community interests, and that sustains the resources entrusted to their care.

Tour Leader Clayton Koopmann BIO Clayton third person short version with photo

2. East Bay Regional Park District East Bay Parks Stewardship

More information

Bio Doug Bell Bell_BioV2_2019 one pg

3. Fletcher Conservation Lands FCL web site

What is a private conservation bank?

About Rob Fletcher  Rob Fletcher Manager, FCLands

Joe DiDonato biologist Joe DiDonato bio

Saturday Evening 6:00 PM to 10 PM at Poppy Ridge Golf Course

Poppy Ridge 2014

Sit down and enjoy the views. Choose from four meal options. Hosted bar.

Hear what MDF leaders have to say about the state of MDF, the Endowment Fund, major MDF projects and the future. We will ask for your financial support.

Side by side flyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Conversation In the Vineyards

A new event is coming to town. First time ever. It’s brought to you by The Mule Deer Foundation in support of the MDF National Endowment Fund (MDF NEF). The fund provides a perpetual funding source for MDF mule deer conservation.

The event, A Conversation in the Vineyards, will take place over a three-day period. May 2, 2019 is arrival day. Out of town guests will be hosted at the Best Western Hotel, Vineyard Inn on South Front Road starting at 6:00 PM with a welcome cocktail offering.

Friday will be a tour and wine tasting day. Tours will be half day and will include a trip to Morgan Territory and a very special trophy room, an Altamont wind turbine farm tour, a barbecue and ranch tour out Mines Road and a wildflower/butterfly tour in the southern Alameda County hills.

Of course there will be wine tasting at Livermore Valley wineries.

At 5:00 PM Friday evening, the guests will share their experiences while eating and drinking wine at the McGrail’s Vineyard and Winery on Greenville Road.

On Saturday there will be a major all-day tour of San Francisco PUC watershed lands, East Bay Regional Park District land and also the Fletcher Ranch conservation lands. This tour will run from 8:30 AM until 3:00 PM.

Of course there will also be wine tasting at Livermore Valley wineries.

The Saturday evening event will be a full-scale dinner and hosted bar at Poppy Ridge Golf Course where once again the guests can share their experiences from the tours and also learn about how to support the MDF NEF.

For room reservations call Best Western Vineyard in at (925)456-4522 and mention The Mule Deer Foundation room block.

Here is a link to a flyer that lists the prices:

Side by side flyer

Kids are Amazing

 

On Christmas morning my grandson Fergus came to me with an acorn.

Referring to the hole in the acorn, he said, “A bird ate it.”

I looked at the acorn and said, “Yes, or a worm ate the acorn and the bird ate the worm.”

He smiled at me.

As I sat in my chair this morning, looking at the acorn, I realized where it had come from. About a year ago, I brought a limb home from the ranch. It was a limb off of an oak tree, but it was a special limb because it was covered with holes stuffed with acorn husks. The acorns had been placed in the holes by acorn woodpeckers.

The reason I brought it home was so kids, like Fergus, could explore my yard.

Mission accomplished.