November 13 – Deer season

Thursday during the invertebrate zoology lab we looked around our museum of dead things.  We picked up a few snail shells to give our hermit crabs some housing options.  We washed them out and dropped them in the aquarium.  One was taken up immediately by the first crab to check it out.  The other two were ignored.  While we were watching the antics of the hermit crabs and feeding them, I saw a little piece of rock move where there should have been no living thing.  On further observation, we saw a little worm periodically stretching out, grabbing a piece of gravel, and pulling it back to cover its hole.  The worm came with the “living rock” that was included with my order.  I had thought there was only a lone barnacle and perhaps an encrusting sponge there, but the worm is a welcome bonus.  We have since seen an additional worm and a tiny crab.

Friday I went in to work for some meetings with lawyers.  We got the low down on harassment, FERPA, liability and other issues.  I feel a lot better about going to Ecuador again.  It’s good stuff to know, but it ate 3 hours.  I got a form through the campus mail that I had to fill out before I could register for the SCUBA class.  The irony is that I registered one of my students for the last spot.  In fact, I had talked three of them into taking it, since I was.  And I had tried to get registered before anyone.  That’s funny.  They are going to try to get me added anyway.  Later they increased the maximum class size.  I’m in.

Saturday morning I got up early for the firearms deer season.  It was 34 F.  That’s not terribly cold, but there was a steady 20 mph wind that made things pretty tough up in the tree stand.  I was fairly well dressed for it, but eventually had to get down and walk around to warm up.  I got into another stand for awhile, but didn’t see anything.  After I got too cold there, I went back to my original stand.  I saw two does, and would have shot them if there had been time.  They sneaked up behind me and I couldn’t hear them in the wind.  I couldn’t get the gun up before they ran off.  One ran up the hill toward the catfish pond.  They like to bed there out of the wind.  On my way out, I looked behind the dam of the pond and jumped her out.  She ran down to the lake.  I ran north to cut her off, but she got up into the trees before I could shoot.  It’s lots of fun running in insulated coveralls, heavy boots, and a backpack.  Lowell, John and I went to town for lunch.  We got chili at a charity supper.  It was good, but I had too much.  When we got back to Lowell’s I slept for an hour.  We got back into the woods.  On the way to my stand I saw in the trail what I at first took for a snake.  An 8-inch snake.  With legs.  It was a salamander.  I haven’t seen one in the wild for ten years, and I sure didn’t expect to see one in mid-November. It had been snowing earlier.  It should be deep underground by this time of year. I took out the camera and shot it from every angle.  I couldn’t move too well, so I put it under a tree off the trail. I was warmer on the stand, but didn’t see any deer.  On the way back, I checked the dam of the catfish pond and flushed another doe.  I ran to head this one off too, but it’s hard to shoot a running deer in the woods in dim light.  John had shot a doe.  He had seen some bucks, but too small for our new 4-points-on-a-side regulation.

 

Isn’t he cute?  It appears to be a small-mouthed salamander, Ambystoma texanum.

Sunday morning was another early one.  It was colder, but the wind wasn’t blowing.  I went to my usual stand at Lowell’s.  The squirrels were very busy.  No deer appeared by 9 when my toes began to go numb.  I thought walking around might help.  I went to places that I have known to be bedding areas in the past.  I jumped a fawn out of one.  It quickly escaped.  In a little swale close to the road I flushed three does.  I took a quick shot at one running up the hill, but it was a clean miss.  I went back to the stand.  It was warmer.  I had been hearing shots all morning.  Other people were getting there’s, but not me.  I read a book from my PDA, periodically looking around for game.  The wind was coming up, making it harder to hear.  I gave up at lunch time, went home and crashed.

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