Saturday, February 22, 2014


Mother Nature can appear to be a heartless parent more times than not and there is usually a good reason for her ruthlessness, although it is infrequently apparent.  Often times the prettiest of animals meet their untimely ends in the most horrible and barbaric ways with the life takers not caring anything about the innocence or sweetness of their quarry.  Life and death in the wilds depends upon the hunters ability to successfully kill,  for nature offers no leniency for failure.  There is a particularly gruesome part to this entry and it starts just after the picture of the heron.  If you wish not to view this disturbing material I suggest you simply stop at the heron photos.  Hey - this is a reality show.   Thanks.
Ha.  I did an early morning quick check on our eagle.  All is well.  It seems he is unmoving from that position.  Actually, that is the female in the picture.  The male, slightly smaller, is down by the river.
 I'm seeing this little girl every-time I visit the tail-race and she can be found on this hillside daily at 8:30 AM.
I'm going to have to cut this trip short as I need to get back home and hitch the bay boat to the state truck and get down to Douglas Lake for the afternoon run.
I'm excited about fly fishing again but I've got a couple issues that I need to take care of before I get the fly rod out.
I am missing that great 500 milometer telephoto lens that has the focus problem and have decided to get it fixed.  The 400 mm telephoto is doing an ok job but the 500 is much better over a wider range of focal lengths.  I've found a company that will repair the focus issue but it is a costly repair - $325.00.
It so happens that in order to fly fish I'll need to acquire a pair of waders which are not cheap, and a pair of wading boots which also are not inexpensive.  There is an item called a wading sock that I like and will eventually fill the bill but even it will have to wait.  Photography is a passion and I guess it comes first and foremost and I view the 500 mm lens as necessary to the fullfillment of my  passion to photograph wildlife but I can see flyfishing moving right in beside it. 
The mud hole was living up to its name today as the sticky mud was bright, shiny, brown and wet from the torrential downpours from last night.  I backed the boat down an endless boat ramp and finally launched the bay boat into Douglas Lake.
Launching a boat on this wacky lake is no easy trick.  Notice how high the dock is off the concrete boat ramp, not to mention how far it is away from the water.  Its perfectly useless.  I just slid the boat into the drink and pulled it back against the rocks.  I can't worry about scratches and chips in gel coat as these lakes around here are boat destroyers.  
That water is so filthy and muddy that the engine prop will barely rotate. Someone ought to install a 20 micron water filter on the French Broad river just above Rankin boat ramp and clean this liquid crud.  Actually all the mud is field and forest runoff that flows down the Pigeon, Nolichucky and French Broad Rivers.  This is the result of heavy farming and logging combined with enormous swaths of land stripped of green and covered with asphalt and buildings.    Don't worry - its progress..
 No, Shade didn't shrink.  This little girl is named Happy and she comes pre shrunk.  I thought it a good warm day to bring her along.  She doesn't like cold very much and missed out on all the boat rides over winter.  She's a sweet thing and is a perfect little rider on the boat.
 The fellow above flew behind the windshield and landed.  Up north we would call this simply a yellow stone fly and its a great trout fly.
Look closely in the following shots and you'll see fishermen covering the shoreline far ahead of my boat.

 There is a total of 40 boats parked over an enormous school of crappies that reside on a very wide mud flat at this location near Indian CreekAll these fishermen and none of them are doing very well.  Some are frustrated at the bad fishing today and some just take it in stride.  Let it be known that I answered an awful lot of questions pertaining to "where are the fish" today.  The fact is that the water is so thick with mud it can be stirred.  The propeller plop, plops in the liquid goop as it rotates.  Fish react to these bombardments on their habitat and many times refuse to eat or even move around much until things clear up a bit.  I would guess its going to take about four days for the water to return to its normal status.

This wretched mud lake does have its photographic possibilities but they are difficult to find.
Check out this great blue heron pigging out on a rather large crappie.  These shots were quick shots without thought as the fish was almost down its throat when I saw the bird and had to take quick pictures and hope for luck.  The fish is hanging out the left side of his beak and the body of the fish is in its mouth and cheeks.

 And, finally the fish is down.
Remember the warning at the start of the entry.
While returning down the shoreline toward the boat ramp located at Dandridge I  noticed something large and black that appeared to be laying in an opening where a cow path lead down to the lake.
What is that!?  What in the world is that?  If this were Cherokee National Forest I'd guess it was a black bear that someone shot and left lay due to its quiet state.  But, this is muddy, Douglas Lake and bear is not an option.  Black Angus cow is, however.
Was it crippled in a fall and laying there helpless or was it dead?  I couldn't pass by and leave it in pain so I beached the boat and ran up for a closer look.
She was dead, thank heaven and it hadn't been all that long since she died and  I wondered how she met her demise.  I walked around behind her back and didn't see anyplace where she could have fallen and there were no bullet holes, at least on the exposed side.  Then I moved around to her rear and the story of her death started to unfold.  This lady was pregnant and she probably walked down toward the water to drop her calf.  I can see her standing there with her back humped up as she pushed and pushed trying to expel her new baby.  The tiny hoofs appeared with the soft nose and muzzle between them, as it should be.
 It was then, I believe, that the coyote pack attacked her and bit and chewed the bloody area where the new calf was being expelled.  They finally felled her and she probably bled to death as she laid there while the critters ate her alive.  This is a common end to new calves in the wilds, especially where wolves are involved.  However, this calf is not eaten, but the mothers flesh has been eaten away from the unborn calf entirely exposing it.  That doesn't fit into my story line.
The cow could have fallen and broken a leg but, I do not see any broken legs and there is nothing for her to fall over or from.  She could have had a complication with the birth and simply bled to death without birthing the calf.  That's odd because the calf is positioned within the mother perfectly for an easy birth - hoofs and head facing rear with muzzle between the hoofs.  This is perfect and desirable.  But they are dead and the mother's flesh eaten away to the extent that the unborn calf is entirely visible.  
 Beef cattle spend most of their short lives out doors in the wilds and live in much the same environment as do the wild critters in nature and succumb to many of the hardships that face all wildlife..

 I'll probably never really know what the story was here but it is a routine tale that unfolds daily in the wilds.  Don't think for a minute that Bamby and her mother skip the life fantastic among the gentle butterflies that flit around the flowered bushes.  It ain't that way.
And, tomorrow's another day out there in the wild places.