The turkeys have been showing up off and on the last few weeks. A group of about 16 hens, one of 9 or 10 jakes, and today these 3 gobblers. Sometimes a group of 5 gobblers stops by. So far the gobblers don't seem to show up when the ladies are here.
For about 3 weeks now, a beautiful 10-point buck has been at the deer feeder every afternoon at 5:00 when it goes off. He returns every day. I've not seen a buck his size hang around as much as he has. I know the rut's over and apparently he knows hunting season is over. But still it's unusual for one that size to be as visible. Or that's been my experience out here of watching them all these years.
One of his tines is broken off on the end. The does were bothered by his presence a little at first but now they mostly ignore him and he ignores them. It's the corn he's after. We haven't had any rain this month, only a trace of moisture from some ice last week. There's not a lot to eat. Most of the hunters only feed during hunting season so our feeder is in high demand. We feed year round.
While the does respect him, the bossy doe, and there's always one or two around, give the spikes and 4-pointers hell. I watched one yesterday jump and paw at the 4-pointer and run him off again and again.
Tougher Than Leather has survived the season. She's gotten a bit more sure of herself and the does don't try to run her off so much. One afternoon the 10-pointer was on one side of the feeder eating and she was on the other. They stood there 2 feet apart, each respecting the other's right to be there. For some reason, it made me happy seeing her there next to him, being accepted by the group.
Rickie had warned me if she came into heat a buck would cause her pain; they can be brutal and with her only having one back leg to stand on, she would be hurt. But if she was, she's survived it. Time will tell if she is pregnant. I've no doubt that she's got the kind of bloodline that needs to be passed on. The survival gene is strong in her.
(This photo is an 8-pointer that stopped by in December.)
I had a very unusual visitor drop by a couple of weeks ago. We are a long way from a river, pond, or marsh so imagine my surprise when I saw this heron in the driveway! He hopped over the garden fence and onto the little tank that has a water lily and a couple of small goldfish. All the tanks have goldfish and they've been hibernating down at the bottom and in some concrete blocks we have for them. I watched this guy for about 30 minutes, waiting for him to make a move, then I gave up. I don't know if he got the fish or not. I'll know when the weather warms and they resurface. Or not.
One morning walking to the front gate last week a fox ran across the driveway in front of me. He stopped to stare at me, and I at him, then slipped quietly through the cross fence. Last night the buck stopped and met my eyes when he saw me at the window. There is something that passes between you and a wild animal at that moment when you stand still and look into each other's eyes. There's an equality about it that has no owner/pet, master/servant, stronger/weaker component to it. These are not my animals, nor am I theirs. They share this land with me and I with them. They don't depend on me to live, but they accept the corn and milo I put out for them. In return, they visit me and sometimes they stop and acknowledge me. Quid pro quo, country style.