Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Archive for February, 2013

Why Do You Hate Your Neighbors?

Posted by todblog on February 23, 2013

Douglas County, has the reputation for being the wild turkey capitol of Oregon. There are a lot of birds in the oak woodland/savannah habitat abundant in the lower elevations of the Umpqua Valley floor. That also happens to be where most of the private land occurs and is either agricultural or residentially developed land. So, turkeys like the same places that people do…rolling hillsides with oak trees. Can they coexist with people?

It depends. If you’re talking about large farms and ranches where the landowner has a direct connection with the land, I’d say most likely yes. These folks are raising livestock and work with animals on a day-to-day basis. Seeing turkeys is no big deal. It’s very likely they see turkeys around the barn opportunistically feeding on some spilled grain. Move a little closer to town and it’s a whole different story.

The folks in town on the smaller properties don’t usually have the same connection to the land as their country counterparts. These folks are plugged into nature via cable TV’s Animal Planet channel. For some, that is enough. Others want more.

It usually starts out as a novelty where it’s neat to see turkeys in your backyard. Some folks just can’t leave them alone, they feel compelled to “take care” of the animals, as if the critters can’t fend for themselves. At first, some folks will start to place food outside for the turkeys and that’s when the turkeys become less wary and more habituated to people. Other folks may have bird feeders up for song birds to use but, the turkeys don’t know that. They also don’t know that cat and dog chow isn’t for them either. Unintentional or not, the result is the same, feeding turkeys sets-up an expectation, “I get food from people“. This is usually the beginning of the end for the critters, and a recipe for disaster.

Turkeys like other wildlife don’t want to work any harder to get their next meal than they have to. We’re no different. It’s a conservation of energy thing. Turkeys are smart when it comes to finding food. They will make their daily rounds through neighborhoods visiting bird feeders and people who leave food out for them or their pets.

It starts out as a few birds and over time it can add up to a big flock especially in the winter when turkeys tend to congregate. That’s usually when the novelty is gone and the phone rings.

Caller: “Come get your damn turkeys out of my yard!”
Response: “Are you or someone in your neighborhood feeding them?”
Caller: “NO, I ain’t feeding these #$^%&* things but, the neighbor down the street is feeding em”
 

The strange thing about these calls is they are so predictable. It will inevitably turn out to be one person who chucks out old bread, muffins, cracked corn, and whatever else they feel to be appropriate for their daily visiting friends- the turkeys. They are usually very tolerant of birds on the roof or on the car and all the turkey poo being deposited on their driveway, deck, porch, patio, etc. Worse is tracking poo into their home as they go in and out of their house. It’s just plain nasty. After seeing people live under those conditions, I just don’t understand why my wife fusses about our house needing to get cleaned up all the time. Heck, I’m thinking we can eat off the floors no problem. I guess people have choices on how they want to live and that’s fine but, when you’re feeding 20- 70 birds each day you are impacting the entire neighborhood beyond just your street. Sadly, these feeders are oblivious to their neighbors and the issues that arise from feeding gone wild. It’s not just a sanitation thing, people complain about damage to their landscaping and the bigger problem…

“I’m calling to report that I saw a cougar in my backyard…”
 

Remember the conservation of energy thing. Why work any harder than you have to applies to the big cat who has stumbled upon this large backyard buffet compliments of the friendly wildlife feeder. Yum… It’s hard to tell if the cougar is showing up for the turkeys or all the deer that have been taking advantage of the cracked corn put out for the turkeys. Bottom line- Don’t feed wildlife. It’s just not a good thing to artificially concentrate a bunch of wild animals in a small area. They get habituated to an artificial situation, become aggressive, share diseases in close quarters (like kids in day care), draw in predators, and it may actually be harmful nutritionally to wildlife.

I’m thinking the Discovery Channel needs to add another show to their programming,….Why Do You Hate Your Neighbors? or a shorter name would be- Feeders. It can be aired on TV just after Hoarders.

If you’re interested to see how we catch a large flock of turkeys at one time, here’s a link to a video showing the use of a Rocket Net.

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Tubs in yard full of grain. Turkeys artificially concentrate in the area. Neighbors aren’t happy.

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A small flock of turkeys scratching around in a backyard after being fed by a neighbor.

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Toms re-arranging the landscaping- scratchin’ the bark mulch.

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Hens on the roof playing hard to get

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Turkey “calling cards” on lawns, driveways, and porches. Not easy to get out of shag carpet. My phone rings.

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Volunteers assembling boxes in preparation for transporting captured turkeys.

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Boxes ready and waiting for turkeys to show

turksonbait

Turkeys chowing down on the cracked corn bait with charged rockets ready to go overhead.

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Banding and boxing turkeys prior to transporting out-of-town.

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This deer was killed crossing the road as it came from the “chow line” that it shared with the turkeys.

keydeer

Feeding wildlife is just a bad idea.      DON’T DO IT!      In this case, the message is for Florida Key Deer.

Posted in 2013, Stories, Stuff I Get To Do | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Why Do You Hate Your Neighbors?

Molokai Venison Marinade

Posted by todblog on February 19, 2013

February 19, 2013

I’ve been using this marinade for a while now and it is KILLER. Some friends from the island of Molokai shared it with me. They use it a lot on their axis deer steaks for the grill. If any of you have ever had the opportunity to eat axis deer meat you know what a treat that can be. I’ve had all sorts of game meat and that is far and away the best game meat in my opinion. No need to try and hide any gamey off flavors, it’s just good meat. However, when combined with this marinade, it is simply delishhhhh!

This marinade will cover 4-5 pounds of steaks.

1 cup Shoyu (soy sauce)
1 cup olive oil
1 bulb garlic
1 handful of rosemary leaves (no stems)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 Tbspn black pepper
 
Combine ingredients, soak steaks 6 hrs, and grill.
ingredients

mix

Adding all the ingredients to the marinade

meatadded

grill

Ahhh…. ready for a taste test. Might not make it to the dinner table!

Posted in 2013, Recipes and Stuff, Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Surf & Turf

Posted by todblog on February 18, 2013

February 18, 2013

My nephew Uriah came all the way from Gainesville, Florida, to work at the Oregon State University Wave Lab and we thought it would be nice to take him out to do something different than what he normally gets to do. In other words, it’s a pass to go out and play. We loaded up the drift boat and crabbing gear and headed over to Coos Bay. The rivers were all running low as there had been no rainfall in a couple of weeks so, there should be good crabbing in the bay. The weather forecast was calling for a chance of some rain showers but, calm winds.

We launched the boat at Empire and headed out to find a spot to make the “big haul”. There were a lot of boats out on the water because it turned out to be a beautiful day. As soon as we got to our first spot I noticed trouble with the outboard motor. The gear shifter wasn’t working anymore and we were adrift in the bay with no forward or reverse. Slight panic sensation overtook me.

Uriah took a look at it and soon found the problem, fixed it and we were back in business. That’s when we saw our Guardian Angel’s fly by…the orange Coast Guard Helicopter! We were in good hands and there were lots of other boats around to render aid should we have needed it.

As it turns out the crabbing was slow with lots of sub-legal crabs and females that got tossed back into the bay. It seemed the other boaters were having about as much luck. We finally called it quits with enough Dungeness Red Rock crabs for dinner and some leftovers.

When we got home, Jeanine had deer backstrap steaks marinating and ready for the grill. We quickly steamed the crabs and barbequed the steaks and had them on the table for dinner. We also opened a bottle of Gruner Veltliner from Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards, a local winery just around the corner from our home. Uriah got a chance to feast on some of Oregon’s finest foods.

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Checking the GPS to see how far we are from “the spot”

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Guardian Angels doing a fly by. Thanks guys!

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First keeper. In Oregon that’s male Dungeness crabs with 5-3/4″ width minimum size.

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Trap full of crabs

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Dungeness crab

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Red Rock Crab

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Cooked and ready for the table!

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Fine local food- crab, venison, broccoli slaw & white wine.

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Oregon Good Eats!

Posted in 2013, Family, fishing, Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Trading Elk For Turkeys???

Posted by todblog on February 18, 2013

February 18, 2013

Another year of elk helicopter flights put-in the books. We spent about one week flying around in a helicopter counting elk in the Coast and Cascade Ranges in Douglas County. It was probably some of the worst elk numbers I’ve ever had. In places we traditionally see elk herds on open slopes, we found nothing. Sometimes we found tracks but no elk. That is frustrating because you only have so many hours to fly and a lot of area to cover. So, if the elk aren’t out in the open where they can be seen does it mean elk numbers are down? or were the elk just not out when we flew the area? or maybe some of both?

One thing that becomes more apparent with each passing year is the decline in open areas on federal land. The forest continues to grow larger, deeper and darker in many places. Does it mean elk don’t use those forests? Certainly not, they need shelter in the form of large stands of timber for escapement and thermal cover. However, there’s not a lot of forage in a deep dark forest compared to open areas where the sunlight grows good groceries like grasses, forbs, and shrubs for wildlife of all kinds including elk and deer. We could certainly use more openings in our forests to provide more nutritional forage for deer and elk. Better nutrition means cow elk entering breeding season in better shape, having more fat reserves to survive winter and being in better condition to raise calves more successfully.

Elk numbers have declined in the Cascades and a couple of years ago when checking hunters we were confronted with a rumor that spread like wildfire.  “Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife trapped 400 elk and sent them to Kentucky in exchange for whitetail deer or turkeys!” It was said enough times by enough people that it became the truth in anyone’s mind who said it. Each camp we pulled into had the same question to ask, “Is it true, you guys trapped 400 elk and moved them to Kentucky? without a public meeting? with our tax dollars?”

I was told by one person that his friend had first-hand knowledge since he was involved in the trapping operation but, did not want to come forward for fear of losing his job. I scratched my head, gripped my chin, and had a good laugh. Wow, does anyone for a second know what kind of effort that would take to trap 400 elk and move them out of the area without anyone knowing about it? and the resources it would take to conduct such an endeavor? I guess those rumors should be taken as a compliment, sort of…

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Fueling helicopter before an evening flight

preflight

Pre-flight safety briefing

pilotwindow

About to descend on some elk below or are they rocks and stumps?

quartzfog

Fog is a constant issue with elk flights in the winter months.

deeropenslope

Large open south facing slopes are good places to find deer and elk.

elkface

Some south facing slopes are found along steep cliff faces. It’s also where the winter “groceries” are found.

flatelk

Elk magnet- it’s what you get when you maintain open meadows with nutritious forage.

limeflat

That same field being limed, disced and seeded a few months earlier in the fall.

jayfarming

Putting the finishing touches on an “elk magnet”

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Restoring a meadow that is being encroached upon by pine trees.

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After falling trees, they are cut up, stacked and burned in the fall. More sunlight means more grasses, forbs, and shrubs that will benefit a variety of wildlife species.

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When you’re surrounded by deep dark forest, where do you go to eat nutritious forage, hmmm…… private lands?

burnface

Wildfire creates large openings for sunlight to hit the ground. Deer and elk appreciate the forage it creates. This fire created a nice mosaic of openings.

LgHerd

Elk caught in the open, feeding in an area opened by wildfire.

plotwide

The Umpqua National Forest- Diamond Lake Ranger District has been creating small openings for elk forage.

signplot

A research project was set up to measure which forage seed mix was most favored by elk. This could be where rumors started…looks like an elk trap don’t it?

forageopening

A winter time view of the forage openings

sunwoods

We need to find ways to get more sunlight hitting the ground. Not everything lives in a deep dark forest.

hungryelk

This elk is done eating on private land and is about to enter the deep dark forest.

Posted in 2013, Stories, Stuff I Get To Do | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Rubbish Guns

Posted by todblog on February 15, 2013

February 10, 2013

Ever since moving to Roseburg, Oregon, I’ve always been impressed with the local gun shows held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds twice-a-year. One of the more popular ones is hosted by the Roseburg Rod and Gun Club and is a fund raising event. They are very organized and post signs all over town informing the public about the upcoming show and it draws a fair amount of people. I usually won’t go out of my way to attend the gun show unless I am going to the county rubbish dump/recycle center nearby. However, it is uncanny how those gun shows seem to always be about the same time I need to make a run to the dump. Here’s how it starts: gun show signs posted around town, collect garbage cans around the house/yard (neighbors garbage if not enough), and go to the dump on Saturday.

With all the talk about pending gun control legislation there is a huge demand for guns and ammunition throughout the nation. The shelves at the local sporting goods stores have been wiped out of popular caliber ammunition and there has also been a brisk sale of handguns. I was curious how the current gun control politics would impact the local gun show. I was amazed at all the people in attendance but, not surprised.

The proposed ban on “assault” weapons and high capacity magazines is really about to make a lot of law abiding citizens outlaws. These laws will have NO affect on gun violence as people bent on doing evil will continue to get their hands on whatever they want. What it has done is drive the current levels of gun and ammo sales through the roof. I like to target shoot but, trying to find a box of ammo is pretty hard to do right now and finding the components to reload your own ammunition is just as bad. Guess I’ll have to wait until hopefully one day the shelves will get restocked with ammunition and not disappear in a few hours. I hope by the time that happens, the guns I have won’t be illegal for me to own…

I went into one local gun store and they had a framed picture on the wall of their Employee of the Year, it was Barrack Obama.

 

 

Cabela’s Springfield store- handgun ammo shelf practically wiped-out!

StewartPk StephensSt Vendors busy

 

 

 

 

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