As we drive around the area, we don’t have to go far to realize that nature in spring means new wildlife is born. As our summer calendar beams in, baby foxes and baby deer (fawns) are running around our local parks and many of us are mesmerized when we spot a newbie in the woods or along hiking trails. Unfortunately, the young wildlife is untrained by their mom in most cases. Yet, they are curious and often are seemingly unfraid of us humans. They don’t know that we are not their best option for safety. While their parent may have strayed away to rest or find breakfast, the youngling went for a walk, untrained, unsupervised and commonly unafraid of everything. The adult will usually find the lost young one and return it to the safety of the woods and fields where they live.
Deer moms will audibly scold the young one from a distance with a solid screeching growl that will immediately get the attention of the baby critter. It’ll get your attention too, if you hear it. I’ve listened to deer scold the quickly growing fawns when they stray into what the parent believes is danger, like getting too close to a human in the park or along a hiking trail. Yet, in some places, like in the quiet villages of Springville, East Aurora and other similar towns, adult deer appear to be training the young deer on where to find the tastiest flowers and emerging vegetable gardens. Mature deer recognizes that they are apparently safe in the confines of the village. How did they discover that hunting is not allowed inside village limits? Yep, smart deer. Let’s face it, if we are not flower or veggie garden folks, we all like to watch the deer, especially the fawns. They’re beautiful critters. So, too, are the fox babies, or kits, as they are called. Some foxes will bear as many as a half-dozen kits each spring.
The same goes for opossum, raccoons, skunks, rabbits, coyotes, muskrats and a host of other wildlife that live happy lives all around us. Many of us are not aware they all are right here with us too. A quiet two-hour morning sit may allow for new adventure and discovery in a nearby village or county park. This can be especially fun for mom or dad with a youngster. Sit motionless in a fold-up beach chair for best results. Bring a camera to share in the possible sighting encounters with others later. Such moments can be historical and can make permanent happy memories for everyone. If you plan such a trip, do not forget that insect protection is required, especially for deer ticks carrying Lyme disease. Picaridin lotion on your exposed skin is suggested for 10-12 hours of protection from crawling and flying insects. Spray Permethrin on your clothes the day before, allowing it to dry before putting the clothes on. These two protection formulas cost about $10 – $12 each in any outdoor store and are worth the cost.
On the flip side, nature can be cruel. Adult female deer literally boot their previous youngsters out of their view when they reach the one-year-old stage. Why? Because the new baby fawns need all of their mom’s attention and protection. So while the one or two or three deer (a doe can have as many as three fawns each spring) that were courting life in the woods with mom for the last 12 months get booted out and don’t know why, the one-year -olds must now fend for and fetch food for themselves. They are often, literally, lost in the woods, especially along our high-speed highways.
On a recent adventure trip south from the Pennsylvania line, taking I-90 across Ohio to Cleveland and then down I-71 south to Columbus and Cincinnati, my better half and I counted 41 deer that lost their lives to a highway vehicle. That was just in the southbound lane. Many of the deer were totally crumpled. We were moved to think how many human lives might have been changed or lost because of these dangerous high-speed highway encounters with a deer. Besides deer, countless other wildlife were killed on these same roadways. Not sure what we can do to prevent these sorts of tragedies. One thing we can do is slow down and consider travel during daylight when most critters are sleeping. The majority of wildlife roadkill incidents happen after sunset and before sunrise. A word to the wise for traveling families planning to beat the record of Father’s Day airport flight cancellations and delays by taking their car or truck to the next vacation spot next time. If you can afford the gas!
On that note, in New York, the average gas price from Buffalo to Erie was about $4.95 per gallon; in Ohio, it was $5.05 for a fill-up; in Kentucky and Tennessee, gas prices averaged about $4.80 along the interstate roadways. In Georgia, we found the lowest price of gas to be $4.09/gallon. The price went back up to nearly $5 in Florida. Let’s all move to Georgia! Isn’t it funny, lately, how do we seem to talk about the cost of gas, traveling and food prices? Should we buy gas to get to work or buy food? Forget the short road trip vacation. Ugh. I say go fishing more, ride your bike there. Tough times are usually temporary, it seems that way in history. Hey, the best of times are also only temporary. So too are sunset and sunrise. Those early-day and late-day moments offer the best moments to acquire the best natural pictures, be they of newborn critters, scenic mountains, or other adventurous areas.
The daylight transition periods also offer the highest catch or visual sighting rate when fishing or hunting. The fish can see their forage better for a few brief twinkling minutes of the day, and these periods offer binge-feeding moments for most fish species, especially with walleye on Lake Erie. Fun, fish-catching moments make solid memories for angles. For deer and other wildlife, some bird species, too, it is that time of day when they seek to travel to their bedding areas, or back to their nests. Hence, a brief, quiet sit-down on a beach chair any place in the outdoors will likely offer any and all of us an excellent chance to watch nature during the best travel times. No airport delays for the wildlife unless they are planning to cross a super-highway. Stay alert to avoid a critter crash.
Wishing everyone healthy and safe fun in the outdoors! God bless America.
Outdoors Calendar: (Area Code 716)
June 25-26 – Free NYS Fishing Weekend, no license required for residents and non-residents.
June 25-Aug. 7 – The Lake Erie NY Walleye Derby begins, visit www.nywalleyederby.com.
June 25 – Teach-Me-To-Fish at Chestnut Ridge Park Lake, Orchard Park, 9:30 am-12:30 pm, register online at www.ecfsc.org or 533-4070.
June 25 – Fly Fishing 101, Buffalo Orvis shop, 4545 Transit Road, Amherst, 9 am start, pre-register at www.orvis.com/buffaloor call 276-7200.
June 27 – Adult Learn-To-Shoot Archery, West Falls Conservation, 55 Bridge St., $5 fee, open to the public, call Bryan Zeller at 826-4621 for info.
June 28 – Youth Archery Program (JOAD), West Falls Conservation Society, 55 Bridge St., register on-site, 6 pm start, $5 fee, Contact Pat Nash at 481-0539 for info.
NOTE: Submit Calendar items to firstname.lastname@example.org at least 2-weeks in advance.