My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

That was interesting

I was feeling down in the dumps earlier, even had a post started on how I was feeling, but as usual, a good long hike in the woods changed all that. The one part of the draft I have started that the public will see is a list of some of the other blogs I read on a regular basis, like Bob Zeller’s Texas Tweeties and the photos he posts of the Big Bend Country. Emily Gooch’s blog from the Pacific northwest. Galen Leeds blog from the San Francisco Bay area. Rebecca’s Rebecca in the Woods blog from Wisconsin. I can’t forget Kathy’s Lake Superior Spirit blog that has me yearning for a trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula, I haven’t been there in years. I think the rest of the post will remain hidden, for my eyes only.

The weather wasn’t the greatest for photography, I thought, shows how wrong I can be. There were light showers moving through the area, nothing like the rain that’s falling right now, but sprinkles now and then. The sun popped out for a minute, and this is what I saw.

Right place at the right time

There had been enough rain to wet the leaves, and when the evening sun hit them, they practically glowed!

Then there was this shot taken of a pond as the sprinkles of rain fell.

Sprinkles on the pond

More leaves.

Wet leaves in the sun

And this one.

The yellow tunnel

My mood was improving dramatically, the woods were beautiful today, but the woods were in a county park near where I live, not the back country wilderness I was really wanting to be hiking in.

I was watching a few birds, mostly chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, and woodpeckers, oh yea, and a lot of robins. There was a spot where the trees were full of robins waiting their turn to bathe in a very small stream. Two or three at a time would be in the stream taking a bath, with the ones that had just finished their bath perched in the trees preening, and others still waiting their turn. That was kind of cool.

I was about half way done as far as distance, and I hadn’t seen any deer yet. I decided it was still a bit early for them perhaps, so I sat down on a fallen tree to take a break. I hadn’t been sitting for long when I heard the siren from a fire truck in the distance. Great, just what I need to remind me that I’m not really where I want to be right now is what I was thinking.

As I listened to the siren, I thought I heard a second siren, no, yes, no, it isn’t a siren, it is a coyote sounding like a siren. Then another, and another, and then still more. Then almost all at once, they broke into the full howl every one is familiar with. I didn’t get a count of how many there were, it sounded like around a dozen of them. I knew there were coyotes around here, I once watched from my living room window as one made an unsuccessful attempt to catch a turkey. I’ve never heard them howling around here, out west, yes, and up north, yes, but not here. And I have never heard them trying to sound like a fire truck siren before either.

So much for feeling bummed out about hiking around home, the hunter instinct kicked in, and I was off to find the coyotes if I could. From their howling, I knew they were on the other side of a marsh from me, in the area I normally see a lot of deer. I set out even slower than normal, eyes peeled to the marsh, but I never did spot one of the coyotes. There were a few times I saw the grass and reeds moving, but I was never sure if it was the wind, a coyote, or some other critter causing the vegetation to move.

I was still hunting my way around the marsh. As I described in an earlier post, still hunting is where you take a few steps, stop, look, listen, then take a few more steps. I had just stopped when I saw a nice whitetail buck come up out of the marsh headed straight for me. I thought that was really strange since the coyotes had to have been very close to where the deer and I were, and deer hate members of the canine family even more than they hate humans. OK, so deer don’t hate, they are even more wary of members of the canine family than they are of humans. Anyway, the buck stopped behind some brush, as they always do, but I thought I had this one for sure. It had been walking straight towards me, I never moved, and I had the wind blowing in my face, which meant there was no way the buck was going to catch my scent.

We stood there watching each other for probably ten minutes. I would see the buck looking around, but most of the time it was looking in my direction, I was as hidden from him as he was hidden from me, and I didn’t even twitch. I don’t know what gave me away, or if anything did, but eventually the buck turned and trotted back into the marsh the way it had come out.

A few more steps and this little doe came over the hill at me.

Whitetail doe

Followed by her mother.

Whitetail doe

I played with them for a while, making sure I didn’t spook them off, I was still hoping the buck would return, but it never did.

I ran into a few more deer, like these, sorry I cut one in half, but I wanted to get as much of the yellow leaves in the frame as I could, and the doe to the left took a step as I was shooting.

Whitetail doe

Then there was this one, part of a small herd.

Whitetail doe

And there were these very vibrantly colored bushes on my path.

Autumn leaves

Then I spotted the big buck from a couple of weeks ago.

Whitetail buck

He’s one of the bucks engaged in the shoving match that I got a photo of. I’m not sure if I posted it here, I’d better check. I did, but I’ll repost it here for you.

Whitetail bucks sparring last weekend

Here’s another shot of him from today.

Whitetail buck

I said that the shoving match last week was just a warm up for the real battles during the rut, must be the rut is about to start. The reason the buck looks like he does is that a fork horn had the audacity to step out of the woods in this bigger buck’s territory.

It’s a good thing I snapped the shutter when I did, because a split second and a loud snort later the buck was on his way after the fork horn. I don’t know how many readers have seen one of the male hoofed animals like a deer or an elk go into battle, but they don’t run, they don’t trot, and it isn’t really what I would call prancing either, but it is a very fun to watch gait. It looks as if they are throwing their front legs out in front of them as they move at a very fast walk.

I hadn’t seen the fork horn until the bigger buck went after it, but the fork horn knew the big guy was on his way. The fork horn took off running, trying to do a big loop around the bigger buck, who was having none of that stuff. He was on a mission, you could tell that from a mile away. The fork horn saw that the big buck was trying to cut him off, so the fork horn went from a whitetail’s regular running speed to the flat-out dead run that deer seldom use. When their belly is about two inches off the ground while they’re running, you know they’re going flat-out. The big guy fell in right behind the fork horn and kicked it up to full tilt as well, I guess he wanted a fight. The fork horn cut into the marsh with the big guy right on its tail, and that was the last I saw of them as they went crashing through the brush.

It was so much fun to watch that the thought of taking a picture never entered my mind, they wouldn’t have turned out any way as fast as the bucks were moving and as low as the light was.

So it was a very interesting day, hearing coyotes trying to imitate a fire truck siren, and watching the two bucks do their thing.

I still feel the need to get away from here for a while, but we have the long four-day Thanksgiving weekend coming up, so I better save up for that and plan a trip for then.

Thanks for stopping by!


7 responses

  1. Awesome fall colors and great shots of the deer. Love the photography and story to go with it. I frequent those same blogs 🙂 And now yours, LOL!

    October 30, 2011 at 11:25 pm

  2. planaquarium

    Captivating images and narrative – well worth the wait, I’d say! Thanks for sharing.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:51 am

  3. Great story and pictures. I especially liked the deer photos. And thanks for the shout-out. 🙂

    October 31, 2011 at 8:58 am

  4. What an excellent day in the woods! And congrats on the pictures of the bucks, that’s not something you see every day!

    October 31, 2011 at 5:19 pm

  5. Well… looks like you and I got to experience “Being at the right place at the right time” kind of moment. Sometimes, you just never know where the opportunities will present itself — as in your case — right in your own backyard. Wonderful images you’ve captured. And thank you for the link to my blog! I really appreciate your support. 🙂

    October 31, 2011 at 8:59 pm

  6. The woods looks beautiful. And, yes, make your way to the Keweenaw one of these days!

    November 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm

  7. Wonderful photography!!! The woods are so very pretty!

    November 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm