Well, I managed to slack off for a few months now in my writing (it’s what, October now?). I figure with the way I’m going, any chances of catching up and posting recent events have been dashed. So what’s the rush? Anywho, let’s take a trip down memory lane and visit more of July.
In July, Along with Photopoints and Dove trapping, I got a chance to do deer spotlight counts. Basically…It’s something I’d do for fun, even if I wasn’t getting paid. It requires 3 people to do the surveys. One to drive, and two to sit on the back of the truck and shine the lights/use the rangefinder on the deer. Every time a deer is spotted, the driver stops and takes a GPS point. The two people on the back get a range and bearing on the deer along with sex and number of deer. The driver writes down all this information which is later plugged into a computer. So what’s the problem with riding around the woods shining deer all night?
Nothing really. Except for the ‘all night’ part.
It’s understood in the outdoor community that all wildlife, particularly game animals, keep terrible hours. Ask any hunter or fisherman when the best time to go out is and the answer will always be some God awful hour of the morning or long into the darkness of night. Most animals are active right after sun up and right before dark. Deer, however, are the exception to this rule because deer…are crazy. They generally don’t come out until it is FAR into the night, long after even the most avid hunter has left the stand, driven home, showered, eaten, and climbed into bed. Sure one might see a deer in the middle of the day. But these are simply the insomniacs of the deer herd. The rest are hiding in the bushes until the earth has rotated a full 180 degrees. It is because of this, that we do deer surveys at night.
Oh, and because their eyes glow and are easy to see. But it’s mainly because they’re crazy.
Deer surveys started at 8:00 pm and lasted until about 2:00 or 3:00 am. For some reason (and I never got a straight answer as to why) FWC stopped conducting surveys on Three Lakes. Instead, the surveys are done at Triple N Ranch, Bull Creek, and Fort Drum WMA’s. All of these areas are at least a 45 min drive from Three Lakes so my hours usually started about 7 and ended around 4.
Over the course of the month, I help conduct about 8 different surveys and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. Every one was different and it was exciting to see the different bucks and admire them as they stared, zombie like, back at the spotlight. By far, the biggest were located on Ft. Drum back toward the Turnpike. I found that the reason for this was because it was close to 2 miles through swamp from the entrance to the back of the WMA and vehicles weren’t allowed. Meaning, that one had to walk to the back.
Unfortunately, I was unable to snap any pictures of the deer. Even if I had tried, my flash probably would have ruined it. Not the mention the fact that they were usually anywhere from 80-300 yards away from the truck.
The hours certainly managed to take their toll on me. I would usually do an 8-4 during the day, rest and then head back at 7 until 2 or 3. Rest, and get back up to work at 8 again. Luckily, FWC won’t pay interns overtime so I’d usually hit my 40 hours for the week very early and then have a few days off. I did, at least, try to take it relatively easy during the days. I was really only whooped if we had to do a prescribed burn the day before a survey. I was able to snap a picture of something I’d only read about previously. A Pyrocumulus cloud:
Apparently its produced from large amounts of smoke. Under the right conditions, water vapor from the smoke manages to boil up into a storm. So, in a sense, we’re busy raining ourselves out when we burn. Kinda counterproductive, huh?