I, meanwhile, popped away at the birds with my little single shot Savage. Miss after miss followed. “Man,” I said to myself, “these ducks are hard to hit!” Finally, a big drake mallard flew straight at me. I shot, and it fell. What a thrill!
For those who enjoy an upland game hunting challenge, don’t mind braving the elements and prefer to avoid crowds, late-season forest grouse hunting may be something to consider.
The day was amazingly perfect. At one point, the wind picked up and aspen leaves fell in the stream where about a dozen browns came to hang out. It was magical. This trip was a reminder that I need to get out and fly fish more: I could use the practice and the fresh air.
In addition to the adventure of the experience, it’s been a goal of mine to harvest every species of upland game I manage in the Upland Game Program. Going into the 2013 season, I had one species left: the elusive white-tailed ptarmigan. The hunt was on!
Everyone was eager to not only see these mysterious creatures up close, but to touch and even smell the furry little flyers. Seeing everyone in the dark was difficult, but characterizing the mood of this group was easy: Bring on the bats!
I love fishing the streams and lakes in Utah because of the diversity of trout species. Until a few years ago, I was completely content fishing for trout, but I began to realize that there were many other cool and warm water fish species in Utah.
When the mob of chicks came back to my edge of the fence, I just reached in and picked one up. That, of course, left its beak free to protest by pecking the top of my head. I got the little guy under my arm quickly and was able to hold a hand over his eyes, which calmed him down.
I snuck away from the group to go fishing on a small stream. Not knowing what to expect, I grabbed a little fly from my tackle box, needle nose pliers and my fishing pole. I threw the little beadhead nymph into the stream and immediately felt the strong vibration of a small fish.
Thanks to the web cams in the nest box, we’ve been able to watch (in high def!) this year’s lone peregrine falcon chick grow from a tiny fluffball into an almost-adult predator preparing for life outside the box. But what’s even better than seeing falcon action in high definition? Seeing it right in front of you!
Next cast… score! You know what I mean if you’ve ever seen someone holding a fishing pole get a bite that bends the pole. I still remember their lower lip bites and looks of concentration and wonder as they worked to reel in that big fish.
In late April, my regional supervisor, Bill Bates, forwarded me an email asking for help retrieving a transmitter from the study. The osprey carrying it had died, then been covered by snow over the winter. The transmitter sent out a signal in October of 2012, but went silent after being covered in snow.
Looking at the calendar, I’ve noted that it’s time to prepare for the upcoming 2013 Great Salt Lake Bird Festival (GSLBF) happening May 16-20. Since 2009, I have co-led a GSLBF birding field trip in downtown Salt Lake City with the expert assistance of bird watching enthusiast Terri Clemons. The excursion is called the City Center Bird Walk.