Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 136

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Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 136

We had a white Christmas, but just barely and the trails weren’t good for much except walking and then that was a slippery experience. Rain on Christmas day and then a quick freeze put a crust on most everything that was left. A few ice fishermen ventured out between Christmas and New Years on some skinny ice. I never found more than two inches anywhere, but I heard that there were four inches on the south bay of Raquette Lake. They even ventured out on Blue Mountain Lake with a couple of shanties I was told, but I didn’t get that far north. The otter on Fifth Lake could pop out most any place he wanted to, and after the thaw on New Year’s Day, he could swim in open water most anywhere.

I watched a couple otters fishing in open spots in the outlet of Limekiln Lake while I was marking the ski trail on the south side of the beaver pond. There was even a Belted Kingfisher fishing in the open water along the ski trail, who chattered at me for disturbing his fishing hole. 

The crust on the snow that came when the cold snap froze the rain that fell making it nearly solid. This pushed many birds to my feeders, even a flock of 12 Turkeys came through to see if the salad bar was still open. The feeders were mobbed with Purple Finch, American Goldfinch and Slate Color Juncos, over thirty of each, which the E-bird report didn’t like. It said that was too many for this area at this time, but they were here, and they are still here in bigger numbers every day. A pair of Tufted Titmouse had been calling around for a week and finally came to the feeders. All this bird activity got a Northern Shrike interested and he came in for a snack, but I never saw him go away with any prey. The snow that’s coming now in this new year will push more birds to your feeders, so keep them full. There are still bears out roaming around eating beechnuts and enjoying the fall weather during our winter. I haven’t seen any activity around the feeders, so I guess there are enough beechnuts to keep them happy. The predicted cold snap may finally put them to bed for the winter.

The grass fires pushed by 100 MPH winds out in Boulder, Colorado, near to Denver, burned over a thousand homes and a shopping mall as it whipped through this area. Snow this morning is helping to put out any hot spots. Three people are still reported missing from the burned area. Our prayers go out to all who lost their homes and to their recovery from this fire. 

At about the same time heavy rains hit the area of Kentucky that was hit by the tornadoes just a couple of weeks ago and now they face major flooding in that same area. I think we better be glad we live where we do, and a foot of snow would be good right now for sure. 

The lost dog’s story was a hunting friend of mine, Jason Harter, who comes up this way to hunt snowshoe hares with his hounds, nine-year-old Buster and a newer young dog Newt. I saw him that morning, but I couldn’t go that day. I’ve hunted with Jason and his dogs many days and I shot several snowshoe hares, running in front of them. In fact, I shot the first hare in front of Buster right in the green patch behind our house when he was only a year old. There was always music in the woods when these two were chasing a snowshoe hare. 

Jason tells me the dogs got on a hare right away and it made a couple circles before Jason got this hare. He crossed the creek to get in the big green patch of woods on the other side and the dogs were off and running again, but this time Buster had struck a fresh bear track and Newt joined him in the chase. Jason tried to catch them once he saw they were on this bear, but the bear lined right out and never turned around. The dogs were wearing tracking collars so Jason could tell where they were, but they just kept getting further away and not stopping. He left them just before dark, and they were still over two miles away. He plotted one on one side of the outlet of a pond the other on the other side of the outlet. He left his jacket and hoped they would get tired and leave this bear and come back as many hounds do. I told him I would check in the morning as their collars had run out and see if there were any dog tracks on the trail in this area. He was coming back up with a friend to help get the dogs and I met him at nine to drive into private land and get closer to where the dogs were last plotted. Since they didn’t come back to his jacket, he was afraid the bear may have swatted a dog as they weren’t together. We got to about a mile from where they last were and found their tracks in the melting snow. It looked like both had crossed the pond outlet which had open water and ice on both shores. Newt the younger dog heard us and started barking across the outlet. She came across the outlet where ice was from shore to shore. It was like she had just jumped out of the truck, but she ate a granola bar. Jason got across the outlet by the pond and came down to where they had crossed only to find Buster there dead. He had fallen through the ice, but gotten out only to go a short distance on shore and died. Jason had lost a good friend, as did I. He carried Buster out to take him home where he will be buried. We had closure and that’s all that could be said, a sad day. 

Winter just keeps coming and going, but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo above: Otter eating a bullhead

 buster at one first hare 1
Me and Buster with his first Snowshoe Hare


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