Saturday, August 16, 2008

Daily Deercam

  I'm an even-tempered kind of guy.  Grown, empathetic, sympathetic, all that.  I'm still irritated today.  
  Kids at the lake ride four-trackers all over the bottom.  Sounds fun to me, but they decided last year to tear down all my trail markers.  I tie a little piece of surveyors tape here and there so that I can get across the always-changing creek bottom and use the same trail.  Using the same trail means there IS a trail, it's quick you don't get off course, you know where to look, where to step, et.  Take down the markers and you are five or ten feet one side or the other in some pretty thick brush where going around a non-descript tree on the left instead of the right means you're lost as hell.  I put them back up, they tear them down.  Irritating.
  Then they stole the deercam across the creek.  Like I say: Kids.  But it's not THEIR damn deercam and I want it left where I put it.  My two cams monitor two separate populations of deer just 500 yards apart.  Some deer cross over, a lot don't.  And it's my cam.
  So I put the word out.  No cam back yet.  They ride around and shoot 12, 20 and 410 shotguns.  Gotta be the kids across the lake.  Sooner or later I will bump into them on the lake road.  I'll be calmer by then.
  Alan loaned me another Moultrie cam.  I want it close to the same spot- originally a big scrape.  I added  a cam and corn every couple of days and started photographing deer like mad.  Some nice bucks.
  Today, after servicing cam one, I took cam two and went off the indian village, past all the downed little bits of orange tape, crossed the creek looking for a place just ten or fifteen yards away on the other side of a tree that can't be seen by a 4-tracking kid from the old abandoned road the stolen cam was on. 
  The creek was scoured from the 5 1/2 inches of rain we had.  Just me, a gallon of corn, the cam, pair of rubber boots, T-shirt, cap, jeans.  Carried a pair of hand shears to cut vines with.
  In the middle of the powerline I ran into a cottonmouth.
  A few months ago, before the cam was swiped, I smelled this guy at the creek crossing.  It spooked me, because I couldn't see him, just smelled the sour stench.  He was right there somewhere very close.  Big snake.  Smelled big.
  In person, he was even bigger.  24 incher.  Thick body with a tiny end of tail for the last four inches.  Square head, like the front end of an aircraft carrier, up surfing through the grass.  Matte brown.  Four inches in diameter.  A very impressive animal.
  If I had been 45 seconds one way or the other I would have never seen him.  I'd been screwing around looking at the black vultures eating dead dog, making two trips to the cam when I forgot the flashcard, zigging through the brush trying to find a shed antler.  Picking up sticks in the yard.  Amazing to match up.  It's like seeing a big buck: you only get 4-7 seconds of target exposure.  Look the wrong way and never see him at all.
   I was a little torn, because he was a Boone & Crockett sized snake, and it was his creek crossing, but I did what any grown, self-supporting, unarmed Methodist would do.  I walked around him to the treeline, put down my stuff, found a fallen pine branch and went back and beat his ass.
  Snakes are fragile, like birds.  Just a whack or two breaks ribs, backbone, ruptures internal organs.  Didn't take much to do him in though he showed some fang and did what he could.  Like the coons the local population will shift and cover this ecological niche.  This particular monster isn't going to be smelling up my creek crossing any more though.  
  Shot a photo with the handheld option of the cam I was carrying.  Will post if the kids don't steal it.  Only had the card in the cam.
  No coons on cam one, just doe and fawn.  Stopped and talked to the local rancher.  He saw a couple of bucks in his North pasture still in velvet recently.  That's late velvet.  The FBI guy across the road killed 11 coyotes by suspending bait on big fish hooks up in the air- the coyotes had to leap to get the chicken legs.....then were hooked and hung until they died.   Makes me feel better about the havahart and .22lr .
  Nine vultures eating the dog.  All Blacks.  Stinks.

  Update:  Still shaking my head over that snake.  Hell of a Cottonmouth.

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