Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Smoked Turkey

Last turkey season, my sons, the Wildman eleven and Manimal nine years old, both harvested a tom turkey on youth day. Both birds were impressive specimensin their own right with one bird sporting a 10.5 inch beard and the other 1.5 inch spurs, each were just shy of 20 pounds, true trophies any sportsman would be happy to harvest. My youngest sat with me and shot his turkey in less than ten minutes, while my eldest sat with his Grampie and had to wait an excruciating long hour and fifty minutes. These gifts from the heavens didn’t just happen, they happened because I spent weeks scouting and tracking turkey movements with game cameras to lock down a solid knowledge of their daily patterns. I noted that these particular toms were strutting through our woodlot about every other day approximately between 7-9:00 am. 
With young kids, 2 hours is about all their attentions spans can handle, after that they are spent and the downward spiral to not having a good time begins. Note that this timeframe can be stretched with chocolate and good reading materials! Knowing that I had a small window of attention, I rolled the dice, got the kids up much later than on a normal turkey hunt and crossed my fingers. Lady luck smiled on us, however, and my son and I managed to squeeze into the blind right just before a huge gobble erupted in the woods only a dozen yard from where we were sitting. I clucked once on the slate call and the gobbler ran into the small field where we were sitting. Manimal raised his shotgun and BANG it was over. After the shot, Manimal turned, looked me in the eye and said, ummm, ummm I do love me some smoked turkey. I laughed so hard, I nearly had an asthma attack!  

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Wildlife Quiz - American Robin

The American Robin by Steve Vose
The American Robin (Turdus migratorius), a member of the “thrush” family of avian, inhabits an impressive range stretching across Alaska, Canada, the United States and Mexico. Most American Robins migrate south for the winter, returning to their native breeding grounds, shortly after the snow begins to melt. 

American Robins or just plain “Robins”, as they are more commonly called, possess a dark black head, back and wings, accentuated by a beautifully colored reddish-orange breast that stretches from the rump to the base of their neck. In flight, a white patch under the rump can easily be seen, further assisting identification. Robins can also be located by their song, a high, shrill, often sharp ki, ki, ki, ki, typically heard at the first light of dawn.

In urban areas, Robins are frequent lawn visitors, where their impressive hearing allows them to forage for subterranean earth worms, beetle grubs, grasshoppers, caterpillars and other small invertebrates. In more forested areas, Robins also feed on wild nuts and berries.

One of the earliest bird species to lay eggs, female Robins build nests and begin breeding shortly after returning to its summer range.  Females construct nests by forming dead grass, moss, paper and twigs into a cup shape, reinforced with soft mud. Females typically lay 3-5 unmarked blue-green eggs that hatch in approximately 13 days. If juveniles can grow into healthy adults and avoid predators including hawks, cats and large snakes, Robins can live to be almost 14 years of age. 

Wildlife Quiz Questions:
  1. To what family of avian do Robins belong?
  2. Do Robin’s migrate south for the winter?
  3. What color is a Robin’s breast?
  4. In flight what detail makes Robin’s easy to identify?
  5. How many eggs do Robin’s typically lay?
  6. How long after hatching do eggs hatch?
  7. What are the natural predators of the Robin?
  8. How long do Robins live?

Wildlife Quiz Answers:
  1. Robin’s belong to the thrush family of avian. 
  2. Yes, a majority but not all Robin’s migrate south for the winter.
  3. A Robin’s breast is a beautifully reddish-orange coloration.
  4. In flight Robins can be easily identified by a white patch on its rump.
  5. Robin’s typically lay 3-5 unmarked blue-green eggs.
  6. Eggs hatch approximately 13 days after being laid.
  7. Robins are preyed upon by hawks, cats and large snakes.
  8. Robins can live up to almost 14 years of age.
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