Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally
ERIC P. ORFF
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer -
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983
New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff
Thursday 11/06/2008 Frogs and me up a tree and deer season reflections.
It's deer hunting season in NH and Maine. And I have had a taste of booth states this past week. Last Saturday was the opening day of New Hampshire's annual muzzle loader season. Deer season puts me up into the trees with other creatures from my tree stands. Fall is a time of waiting and much patience and thinking. I suppose I could just think about deer while deer hunting, but I don't. I want to drink in all that the fall woods has to offer and maybe now and then kill a deer. I've never been a real "rabid" deer hunter and therefore not a particularly skilled one. But put a tranquilizer gun in my hand and I do turn rabid. I guess I do like the catch and release part a lot, but so do I relish some nice wholesome venison in the freezer.
Any ways, Saturday had me in my tree stand out behind my mom's down the road a piece. The day seemed to quickly warm with not much stirring. Around 11:00 am a trio of tree frogs began to bark at me from nearby trees. One was probably in the next hemlock within arms reach of me and somewhere out on a limb at head height. But being the masters of disguise and the ventriloquists they are, I could not see it. Tree frogs become the dead of winter. They actually will freeze solid in the next few weeks as winter arrives. But this trio was sounding off with the occasional three part croak, nothing like their long June breeding call that sweeps past my house through the pines before they cavort in the meadow below. It is one of my favorite early summer sounds. But here it was November first and they were still active on this warm November morning. They will freeze solid and be essentially dead to the world yet will resurrect around Easter. Godly creatures I would say. How short life is for them each year with perhaps 6 months of living and nearly that long in death each year.
Sunday I headed to my camp in Maine with my son-in-law Derek for our annual "Deer Camp". We arrived just before dark Sunday evening. Well with the clock change, it is dark at 5:00 pm now. We had the heaped up truck bed unloaded and a roaring fire in the camp stove to take the chill out and take the dampness out of camp. Shortly I noticed the thermometer bubbling up to 110 degrees. How full the sky was with stars. We hiked out back to the beaver swamp to get a better view. Zing, zing, zing before you knew it I had counted 6 shooting stars. As we stood on the deck just before bed at 7:30 Derek could hear a deer walking right behind camp. I crossed the deck with enough noise for it to blow at us. Oh to go to bed with a deer in your presence on the eve of deer season.
We were up early and headed right out in back of camp at first light. It was in the low 20's and the single bottle of water I had left on the deck table was frozen solid. Lots and lots of deer sign in back of camp with a long line of buck scrapes. Bucks in mating season choose a site under and overhanging limb, usually a hemlock or fir and scrape a circle with their front feet and mark the area as their territory. (photo of my hat is in the middle of a buck scrape) Some scrapes were within a hundred yards of camp. Derek did jump three deer a half mile from camp, but in two and a half days of hunting we never saw the buck.
While on stand Tuesday afternoon a half mile from camp I watched a chipmunk for over a couple hours collect and store red oak acorns. He would scurry about for one to two minutes, testing some nuts by rolling them in his mouth, and spitting them out if they didn't pass his test. But usually within a minute or two he was running back right by me and disappeared down a hole by a stump close by. But only for 10 to 12 seconds before heading out again. I couldn't help but wonder how he could possibly take that many nuts down underground.That little hole was more like the phone booth in the old Dr. Who series as it was small from the outside but must be huge on the inside. Any ways I spent the better part of close to three hours until dark between two good deer runs while watching that chipmunk. It was a nice hike in the dark back to camp. No doubt surrounded by deer somewhere out there in the dark.
I did discover a nice paper wasp nest in the cutoff not too far from camp yesterday morning (Wednesday). How quickly the summer has gone by with all the actions and living there is to do in the long summer days. But now this nest was abandoned, well actually the freeze we had probably killed them all. Except the queen has gone into the forest floor into hiding and hoping to survive until next spring. And like the tree frog begin life anew. By 11 yesterday the sun was out and it was getting very warm. Close to 70 degree I would guess. Not the kind of "deer camp" temperatures I remember going back decades. I was soon soaked with sweat as I cut though the clear-cut trying to roust a deer. But no luck. Derek had a work commitment that cut our deer camp short this year. So we were packed and headed out of camp by a little after 1. How beautiful the lake looked. A lone mallard hen chuckled at us from way out in the lake. She would soon have the lake and my camp to herself. How peaceful it is there. And what a place to connect to life. Taking stock of present life and my reflections of over a half century on this lake always give me comfort at camp. How similar our lives are to the frogs and bees. Oh to be back at camp next spring to enjoy the buzzing of a bee, the croak of the frogs and the thoughts of a long summer that lay ahead.
2008-10-29 The smell of snow is in the air today and October woods are looking like winter woods
2008-11-20 The Suncook Rivers is wearing the cloaks of winter.
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