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Category Archives: Wildlife

Albino Bear

I came across this article and thought it was something our members would enjoy reading.

A seasoned young hunter in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania last month was able to bag an impressive bear by any measure with a single shot. Not only was it a mature sow that dressed out at 138 pounds, but it also was a rare albino as well.

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“When I got up to it my legs just locked up. Other members of our group came down and no one could believe it. It was surreal,” 26-year-old Jeremy Gross of Bloomsberg told the Times-Leader.

Gross harvested the animal on Dec. 4 in Beaver Township, Columbia County, part of Wildlife Management Unit 4E on a vacation day from work. Taking advantage of the extended gun season, he took the sow with a single shot from his .270.

State biologists advised the albino bear strain, like cinnamon and blonde-colored black bears, are something rarely encountered with only a handful born each year even in the state’s plentiful population.

“When the bear was harvested on Dec. 4, it was really spreading on social media,” said Kevin Wenner, biologist for the PGC’s Northeast Region, who had never come across one in his career before last month. “Someone brought a bear in that day and told us about the albino being harvested, and an hour later it showed up.”

Wenner, who estimated the bear to be about four years old, removed a tooth from the animal to better age it.

“It was a good-sized sow and appeared to be in good health,” Wenner said. “Being an albino didn’t impact her health.

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Where to Place Your Trail Cams

A trail camera won’t stumble through a bedding area, leave scent all over a trail, or exaggerate the size of a rack. And it’ll never oversleep. But your perfect little scouting buddy must be chosen wisely and placed carefully if you want to pattern that old, crafty animal you know is around. Here’s how…

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The earlier version trail cameras were just a 35mm film point-and-shoot tucked in a weatherproof housing. It snapped a single picture when something triggered the sensor. After retrieving the camera, you ran to the one-hour shop to get the film developed, then thumbed through a week’s worth of pictures. More than once a stack of 36 prints revealed a handful of out-of-focus animals and a couple dozen shots of a wind-whipped brush or a drooping tree branch. That was only a few years ago.

Today, many website boasts several pages of trail cams, and even the cheapest one outperforms the original older ones. They have lenses sharp enough to count the ticks on a deer’s neck, electronic circuit boards so efficient that four AA batteries will run a unit for months, and memory cards that hold thousands of pictures you can download to your computer or delete at the touch of a button. And those are standard features on mid-priced cameras. The high-end ones will send a photo to your cellphone or laptop.

Like everything in the digital age, trail-cam technology has improved, competition has become fierce, and prices have plunged. Still, $200 is plenty of money, and matching a camera with the right features to meet your needs is critical. And even the best camera can’t take spectacular photos of a trophy buck if you don’t set it properly. But it’s not difficult to get started. These are the basics.

TrailCameras3
Wildlife biologists use trail cams to measure herd densities, buck-to-doe ratios, and the like. Your goals should be simpler: learning about the deer on your property, figuring out where to hunt them, and having fun in the process. You can pinpoint ideal spots before you buy a camera, and the locations you choose can determine what model is best for you. Here are four sites for four different periods.

Time: Late Summer
Site: Mineral lick
Goal: To start an inventory of buck numbers and quality on your property.
Setup: Find a spot with moderate to heavy deer traffic and spade up dirt in a 2-foot circle. Pour in half of an ice-cream pail of stock salt or commercial deer mineral and spade it into the loosened soil. Pour the rest on top.
Tips:
• Establish one or two licks per 80 acres. Allow deer up to a week to find them.
• Situate each lick 10 to 30 feet from a tree for mounting a camera.
• Jam a stick behind the camera’s top edge to point it down toward the lick.

500Time: Early Season
Site: Mock scrape
Goal: To find bucks after velvet shed, when they often relocate. Mocks can draw up to 90 percent of the bucks you’ll hunt.
Setup: Rake grass and forest debris 5 feet away from a tree that has a green, overhanging licking branch 5 to 7 feet above the ground. Activate with your own “product” (drink plenty of liquids) or deer urine.
Tips:
• If you are not getting clear shots of a buck, aim the camera at the licking branch. Most bucks will work it with their antlers.
• Establish multiple scrapes in each area and hang cameras only on the most active ones.

Time: Rut
Site: Funnel
Goal: To determine where resident bucks are traveling and whether traveling bucks are in the area.
Setup: Find terrain features that channel buck movement and hang a camera near fresh tracks and rubbing activity. Check camera every three to five days—the rut moves quickly.
Tips:
• Mount camera at a 45-degree angle to the trail. Bucks often move through funnels quickly; a camera set perpendicular to the trail might miss the shot.
• Scuff dirt in front of the camera with a boot. Such a mini mock will often make a moving buck pause and get “shot.”

Time: Late Season
Site: Food source
Goal: To find out where to fill a last-minute tag, and to know which bucks have survived the bulk of the hunting season.
Setup: Scout widely to find the hot food sources in your area, such as waste grainfields and clear-cuts. Place camera within 30 feet of the most heavily trafficked area. Load it with fresh batteries if you hunt in an extremely cold area.
Tips:
• Set up and check cameras at midday to avoid spooking feeding deer.
• If no trees are located near the food source, mount the camera on a tripod and camouflage it with grass or brush.

Make the Next Shot Count!

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Roasted Grouse With Mushrooms

Make your own cream of mushroom sauce (and add bacon and whiskey) for this classic grouse recipe

grouse

Ask any deer camp old-timer for a foolproof recipe, and you’re likely to encounter a lot of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. There is a reason for that: Mushrooms plus cream plus game meat adds up to a perfect trinity of flavors. This recipe chucks the can, and all its high-sodium gloppiness, while retaining the earthy comfort that made mushrooms and cream the go-to sauce for generations of hunters.

Ingredients

Grouse:
4 grouse
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
8 strips bacon

Sauce:

2 Tbsp. butter
20 oz. cremini or wild mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin (morels, chanterelles, or a mix of wild and cultivated would be good)
1 shallot, minced
1 cup rich chicken stock (or defatted drippings from the pan)
3 sprigs thyme
12 cup cream (or crème fraîche)
(or)

1 Tbsp. bourbon
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. ROAST THE GROUSE: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the birds, pat dry, then smear each with a tablespoon of softened butter. Generously salt and pepper, inside and out. Wrap 2 bacon slices around each grouse, then set them in a roasting pan. Roast in the oven until the grouse is browned, about 25 minutes. Remove to a plate and let rest, covered loosely in tinfoil, while you make the sauce.

2. MAKE THE SAUCE: Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and about 1/2 tsp. salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release a lot of moisture and begin to smell fragrant, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallot. Sauté until soft, and until most of the moisture has gone out of the pan, about 4 minutes. Add the stock (or defatted drippings from the roasting pan) and thyme sprigs and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Pour in the cream and bourbon and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 3–5 minutes.

3. TO SERVE, spoon the sauce onto four plates, and rest a grouse in the center of each. Sprinkle thyme over the grouse. SERVES 4

grouse3

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Roasted Grouse With Mushrooms

Make your own cream of mushroom sauce (and add bacon and whiskey) for this classic grouse recipe

grouse

Ask any deer camp old-timer for a foolproof recipe, and you’re likely to encounter a lot of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. There is a reason for that: Mushrooms plus cream plus game meat adds up to a perfect trinity of flavors. This recipe chucks the can, and all its high-sodium gloppiness, while retaining the earthy comfort that made mushrooms and cream the go-to sauce for generations of hunters.

Ingredients

Grouse:
4 grouse
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
8 strips bacon

Sauce:

2 Tbsp. butter
20 oz. cremini or wild mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin (morels, chanterelles, or a mix of wild and cultivated would be good)
1 shallot, minced
1 cup rich chicken stock (or defatted drippings from the pan)
3 sprigs thyme
12 cup cream (or crème fraîche)
(or)

1 Tbsp. bourbon
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. ROAST THE GROUSE: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the birds, pat dry, then smear each with a tablespoon of softened butter. Generously salt and pepper, inside and out. Wrap 2 bacon slices around each grouse, then set them in a roasting pan. Roast in the oven until the grouse is browned, about 25 minutes. Remove to a plate and let rest, covered loosely in tinfoil, while you make the sauce.

2. MAKE THE SAUCE: Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and about 1/2 tsp. salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release a lot of moisture and begin to smell fragrant, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallot. Sauté until soft, and until most of the moisture has gone out of the pan, about 4 minutes. Add the stock (or defatted drippings from the roasting pan) and thyme sprigs and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Pour in the cream and bourbon and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 3–5 minutes.

3. TO SERVE, spoon the sauce onto four plates, and rest a grouse in the center of each. Sprinkle thyme over the grouse. SERVES 4

grouse3

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Wolf Pack Encounter

Wolves are not dogs and whether they are a pack of wolves or dogs they are dangerous when grouped together.  As most of us know, wolves are causing havoc on wild game populations, not to mention what they do to domestic animals.

wolves

As most of us know, wolves are causing havoc on wild game populations, not to mention what they do to domestic animals.

Thankfully, these animals now have a hunting season in most states where they live. But there are still people trying to stop wolf hunting and trapping in problem states. Unfortunately, they sometimes win those battles.

Perhaps those that are trying to save the “innocent” wolves should be placed in the same situation as this hunter; watch as he is surrounded by wolves while elk hunting.

By Jason Houser

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Bear Encounter for Cyclist

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In urban areas, cyclists need to watch out for cars. But in more rural places, there are other dangers. 57-year-old Jim Litz, a science teacher in Missoula, Montana, learned this when he t-boned a black bear while riding his bike to work. Read on for the details.“I was lucky. I was truly lucky”

He was traveling about 25 mph when he came upon a rise and spotted a black bear about 10 feet in front of him. “I didn’t have time to respond. I never even hit my brakes,” Litz said.

He tumbled over his handlebars, planting his helmeted head on the bruin’s back, and man and beast went cartwheeling down the road. The bear rolled over Litz’s head, and its mass cracked his helmet. As the duo toppled over one another, the bear clawed at Litz’s cycling jacket, scratching his flesh from shoulder to buttocks before scampering up a hill above the road, where it stopped and whined.

Litz’s wife drove by soon after and took her husband to Community Medical Center, and he immediately called  Fish, Wildlife and Parks to report the unusual collision. Game wardens told him they didn’t think the animal was seriously injured, but was more likely suffering from some bruised ribs – just like Litz.

“I was lucky. I was truly lucky, because I accosted the bear and he let me live,” Litz said. “I truly respect them. They’re beautiful creatures.”

by:  Michael Graham Richard

Black-Bear-crossing-the-Alaska-Highway

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Moose – FYI

Moose, Alces alces, Canada, North America.Moose are the largest of all the deer species. Males are immediately recognizable by their huge antlers, which can spread 6 feet (1.8 meters) from end to end. Moose have long faces and muzzles that dangle over their chins. A flap of skin known as a bell sways beneath each moose’s throat.

Moose are so tall that they prefer to browse higher grasses and shrubs because lowering their heads to ground level can be difficult. In winter they eat shrubs and pinecones, but they also scrape snow with their large hooves to clear areas for browsing on mosses and lichens. These hooves also act as snowshoes to support the heavy animals in soft snow and in muddy or marshy ground.

moose2In summer, food is far more plentiful in the northern regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. When the ice melts, moose are often seen in lakes, rivers, or wetlands, feeding on aquatic plants both at and below the surface. Moose are at home in the water and, despite their staggering bulk, are good swimmers. They have been seen paddling several miles at a time, and will even submerge completely, staying under for 30 seconds or more.

mooseMoose are similarly nimble on land. They can run up to 35 miles (56 kilometers) an hour over short distances, and trot steadily at 20 miles (32 kilometers) an hour.

Males, called bulls, bellow loudly to attract mates each September and October. The usually solitary bulls may come together at this time to battle with their antlers for mating supremacy. After mating, the two sexes go their separate ways until the following year. Though they may occasionally feed in the same grounds, they tend to ignore each other.

Females give birth to one or two calves in the spring—each weighing some 30 pounds (14 kilograms). These calves grow quickly and can outrun a person by the time they are just five days old. Young moose stay with their mothers until the following mating season.

 

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Wildlife Encounter – FYI

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The Mentality of The Wolf Pack

There’s nothing more exciting than calling in wolves and here’s some tips on how to get in on the action.

Wolf

1. Find Them
Wolves have large territories—50 square miles or more—so you can’t just wander out into the woods and start calling. Locate a pack’s core area by wolf howling or coyote howling from roads and ridges, but don’t expect to draw them in that way since wolves are territorial, so they’ll respond to howls, but unless you’re already in their core area, they won’t come in to investigate.

Wolf howls should be loud, long, and guttural—almost mournful, but, you don’t need to get fancy. A two-tone voice call (hands cupped around your mouth) going from high to low will work. Howl three times at most and then wait and listen.

WawangWolfHunts2Because wolves generally live in denser cover than coyotes, you need to call louder than you would on a coyote hunt.  Start with an electronic fox or coyote distress call on low volume and then gradually turns it up to maximum volume for a few minutes.  Use coyote challenge howls, barks, and yips to simulate coyotes fighting over a kill, and, simulate a fight for 20 to 30 seconds, then waits about 20 minutes before challenge howling again. If you’re in elk country, bugles and cow chirps will also draw in wolves.

There’s nothing run-and-gun about wolf hunting.  Setup a ground blind and wait all day. Wolves will come to a call from a long distance. They’ll circle your position, or they’ll just sit, wait, and watch. It can take hours before they decide to commit to a call. But when they do, they’ll usually come in quickly.

3. Stay Ready
When you see a wolf coming in to your setup, it sends chills down your back. You’re going to be nervous, so you need to be ready to shoot.  Shooting sticks provide a steady rest when your heart is pounding, and they also make sure your gun is always in shooting position. Any movement will get you busted. Set up in an area where you can see at least 100 yards so you’ll have time get on an incoming wolf.

If you’re not sitting in a blind, hunt with a buddy positioned about 10 yards downwind of you.  Predators, especially wolves, always seem to know where your back is, and you don’t want a big wolf sneaking up behind you.

Tip: 
Use Enough Gun When it comes to choosing a caliber, wolves should be regarded as big game, not varmints. Experienced wolf hunters recommend using a .30-caliber rifle and up. Wolves are solid animals with heavy, matted fur, and commonly weigh 150 pounds or more—about the size of a young whitetail buck.

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Moose Rack – How It Grows

Moose are the largest living member of the deer family (Cervidae) and fittingly bear the largest set of antlers. Moose antlers are usually paired and shaped like the palm of a hand with outstretched fingers, thus the expression palmate.

After a male moose reaches one year of age he starts to grow antlers that increase in size (becoming more elaborate with more points and heavier) for each new set of antlers he grows until he reaches his prime. After a male (Bull) moose reaches his prime the antlers start to recede each year until the moose dies.

Mature Bull Moose Antlers

North American Moose Antlers have larger antlers than their European relatives. World record antlers consistently come from Alaska, where antler spreads of six feet have been recorded.

Every year the cycle is the same. In the spring antlers begin to grow from the skull covered with a tissue called “velvet”.

By September the growth has completed and the velvet dries and falls off. Moose will often aid the removal of the velvet by rubbing their antlers on trees and shrubs (on occasion they’ll eat the velvet too!). The continuous rubbing on trees, combined with the dried blood and dirt will give the Moose Antlers the brown color hunters are accustomed to seeing in the fall.

What is the purpose for Moose Antlers?

Antlers do not serve a useful purpose until the fall and during the mating season (called the Rut). Even during this period of time, which in British Columbia is typically the first two weeks of October only serve as a tool for intimidation.

You see Moose for the most part only have to show off their antlers to scare off the rivals – younger and weaker males. On occasion a mature bull moose will chance upon a moose of equal stature; where intimidation and posturing will not work they may then face off head to head and engage each others antlers.

There have been situations where these wrestling matches have led the moose antlers to become so entangled that they cannot separate and both moose die.

Broken and/or damaged antlers can lead to a long road to recovery for a moose. It would take more than a morningside recovery to heal the damage. Recovery in the wild is a long process. At morningside recovery, we take it one step at a time.

When do Moose loose their antlers?

Between January and March is when moose typically lose their antlers; younger moose keep their antlers until later in the winter and it is usually only two year old moose that may still adorn their antlers come March.

Two distinct types of moose antlers are the “palmate” or shovel-horn type characterized by broad up-reaching parallel palms, and the “cervina” or “pole-horn” type, having long tines or spike-like architectures. The palmated antlers are either fully palmated in shape or of a split –palm, 

An antler from a yearling male moose

(1) An antler of a yearling male usually has two or three points on each side. Some may have four or more points on each antler branch or a small palm.

Yearling moose are the most easily aged identified, they typically have two or three points on each side and are of the cervina type. These young moose have small circumference of main antler beam, few points and narrow spread.

An antler from a two and a half year old bull moose

(2) An antler from a two and a half year old bull moose. Note the increasing palm development into an upward and backward pointing component and the forward and downward pointing brow tines. 

Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose

(3) Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose. Note the two point or forked brow palm development and wide distance between the innermost points on the brow palm. 

Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose

(4) Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose. Note the offensive architecture, forked brow palm and wide gap between opposing points. 

The antlers of a bull moose in its prime of life

(5) The antlers of a bull moose in its prime of life. Antlers are a butterfly or split-palm type. Note the palmate on the brow palm and the protective architecture afforded by the short distance between the innermost points of the brow palms covering the facial and eye areas. 

Antlers of older moose vary to such great extent that it is an impossible task to accurately identify an animal’s age.

Antlers of a ten and a half year old bull moose

(6) Antlers of a ten and a half year old bull moose. Note the changes in the brow palms. Palmate is beginning to regress and defensive structures are being changed to more offensive juvenile forked structures. 

Antlers of a senior bull moose

(7) Antlers of a senior bull moose. Note loss of points, regression of palmate and reversal of brow palm to the forked or two-point offensive structure typical of juvenile males. 

Antlers of a late senior bull moose

(8) Antlers of a late senior bull moose. Note the reduction in number of antler points, further regression of the palmate and accentuation of the juvenile offensive characteristics on the brow palm. 

Moose antlers will vary in size and rate of growth. Other than the yearling moose any attempt to judge a moose age is purely guesswork.

Until a bull moose reaches its prime at five-and-one-half years of age its eye guards will be of singular or two point (photos 1-4). As the moose age increases you can see a marked increase in the development of the palmate and the number of points. A moose in its prime (photo 5) shows distinctive butterfly-shaped antlers which signifies a moose is high ranking and breeding potential.

After the bull moose passes its prime the marked reversal of antler development shows. Photos 7 and 8 show the decline in the architecture of the moose antlers and therefore the social standing and breeding abilities also suffer.

Moose at very old ages of twelve and beyond will have moose antler development that may be described as grotesque or misshapen almost beyond recognition as typical moose antlers. No form of rehab or morningside recovery will aid in the reshaping or repair of the antlers.

Even though we are unable to determine a moose age by its antlers we are able to learn a considerable amount about the social structure and reproductive status of moose as they age.

If you are fortunate to shoot a moose (weapon or camera) with a trophy set of antlers, one thing is certain; the record head or picture mounted on your wall, is a bull with many years experience behind him.

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