IMGP0002I made the drive up by myself on Friday. This country(Wisconsin is most certainly a different country) in the early morning is never short of entertaining wildlife encounters. Unfortunately, I am never able to get the photos I want for one reason or another.

Encounter one – In a distant field I spotted 4 white clumps. Although there was a bit of snow on the ground, and the light was low, my brain was unable to comprehend why a rural Wisconsin redneck would gather four piles of snow in the middle of a harvested corn field. As I slowed the truck to 70 mph I recognized the 4 black bills of 4 giant trumpeter swans. They must have rested the night in the field feeding on the remnant corn from harvest. As I hit the brakes and went for my camera, I saw the headlights in my rear view. The decision to avert a collision and continue on was made in an instant.

Encounter two- The 5 crows that surrounded the raw, red meat on the center line were engaged in a feeding frenzy. The road kill was small and recent judging from the color. The pecks from the birds were orderly and organized. As taught in driver’s education here in Wisconsin, a punch of the accelerator in these situations will add additional entertainment value to your roadway wildlife viewing experience. Crows are smart. They understand the mass X acceleration formula and never fall victim to traffic. As the crows began their educated dispersal, I spotted movement in the upper left corner of my windshield. In an instant, a flash of black and white snatched the kill from the road. As I passed, I watched the eagle carry the dead animal off in one talon. He narrowly escaped death by truck. The other talon seemed to be configured with the middle digit extended. I can’t be sure, but it appeared to be a display of defiance directed at the group of confused crows just landing on the roadside. I remember thinking, God this is a great country! No photo here, birds moving too fast.

c-12Encounter three – I had seen a number a number of dead deer on the roadside along the way. Contorted, bloody, bloated, you know the scene. I had seen dead deer on cargo racks, dead deer in pick-up beds and dead deer in trailers. We are beginning the height of the rut here in Wisconsin and the Gun opener is right around the corner. Buck fever abounds. Although I am not a deer hunter, I appreciate the great tradition of the deer hunt in the North woods. As I neared my destination on Friday, my eye fixed on a dead deer on the shoulder. It appeared from a distance in a perfectly normal “bedded down” position. Something was wrong. Was it the color, the posture? My brain was unable to discern what it was until I slowed the truck and closed in on the animal. The darn head was missing. Someone had sawed off the head. Not only was it dead, it had no head. At that point I shook my own head. I remember thinking, boy this is kinda creepy. As I continued to inspect the animal I was struck by the size of its body. It was a big buck,,, without a head. This photo was too creepy.
For the last 30 minutes of the drive I imagined the scenarios that had taken place. The scary guy in the pick-up with the big bow saw, the young kid telling the story of the trophy buck he arrowed at dusk, the guy who makes chandeliers out of antlers, the weight lifter/sex maniac who sells antler spray. They all passed through my mind.

IMGP0005As you may have guessed, fishing on the Brule River was slow this weekend for most folks. 7 guys and a dog named Coulee showed up for the fun. The weather was quite good and I was able to fish in the snow on Friday. I love fishing in the snow on the Brule. We call this final trip of the year Jim’s Birthday trip.Turned out Jim was the man. He landed 3 beautiful fish on Saturday. It was his day. A couple of other fish, both steelhead and brown trout, were hooked or landed but pickin’s were thin.