Big Fishweir Creek

While eating lunch on the deck at Harp’s Pub, which is only a few thousand yards from my house, you can look straight down into the murky waters of Big Fishweir Creek. This once navigable urban waterway meanders from Jacksonville’s trendy Avondale neighborhood under the Herschel Street bridge and into the Ortega River where it joins the St. John’s River.

Kayakers, fishermen and canoeists once enjoyed the recreational opportunities of Big Fishweir but this urban waterway has become shallow and harder for wildlife and boaters to navigate due to sediment from surrounding development and storm events.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has designated Big Fishweir as an area that should be swimmable and fishable. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to start removing sediment and invasive plants in early 2021. The majority of funding for the 6.5 million dollar project is federal while about 35% is from the city of Jacksonville.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida Black Bears

A recent Associated Press article in the Florida Times Union States that Governor Ron Desantis signed a bill to protect black bears against poachers. I don’t even like poached eggs so I can imagine how yucky a poached bear would taste.

Anyway, the main reason some people were poaching bears is because the Florida bear population has skyrocketed. Which is a good thing if you like bears. In the ‘70s the Florida black bear population was only in the low hundreds. It  has now rebounded to around 4000. But some Floridians don’t LIKE bears, at least the ones that poop on their suburban yards and turn over their garbage cans which seems hypocritical to me because some HUMAN Floridians do these things all the time.

So, bottom line… the bill means there will be MORE bears which will please the pro-bear crowd but the anti-bear folks will be highly pissed.

But wait… there’s MORE! The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has drafted a 10-year management plan that it says takes a scientific approach toward addressing the rising bear numbers. And what is that plan, you ask? They are going to keep the bears off-limits to hunters. Do you see where I’m going with this? How is keeping more bears from winding up as a rug in front of the fireplace in some guy’s man-cave going to address the rising bear numbers?

I don’t know about you but I can’t bear to think about this any more.

 

 

 

 

 

Pets by day, killers by night

They stalk the suburbs by night. With catlike quickness they pounce upon their unsuspecting prey. With no respect for the concept of fair play the nocturnal monsters toy with their helpless victims, often flinging them into the air or swatting them with cruel paws. Eventually tiring of this sadistic game, they commit the unthinkable… they DEVOUR their prey, often while the pitiful creatures ARE STILL ALIVE!

Though these hairy monsters assume their evil deeds are hidden by the cloak of darkness we, thanks to the ubiquitous trail cam, know the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

Another Day In Paradise

Looking east from Jim’s Boatyard at the confluence of Sisters Creek and the St. John’s River…… 6:30 AM…It’s a beautiful sight. I’d love to see it more often if I didn’t have to get up so damn early. It’s a good start for a 4-hour charter with Capt. Andrew Mizell of Southern Marsh Charters.

Saw my first manatee this morning, at least the nose of a manatee. Wasn’t quick enough to get a photo. Maybe next time, if I’m quick enough, I’ll get to see an entire manatee.

Capt. Andrew Mizell displays a flounder

More exciting urban trail cam photos

Tie your trail cam to a tree in the woods, leave it for a week or so, then take out the chip,  stick it in  your computer and marvel at  the exciting photos. White tail deer, raccoons, possums, all sorts of nocturnal critters roaming the area.

Stick your trail cam on a tripod and set it up in your urban back yard and…well…it’s less exciting. However, in the darkest hours of night my trail cam has recently captured images of two neighborhood cats doing their thing: hunting for rats and mice.

A big round of applause for these, my fellow predators, for their service to the neighborhood.

 

 

 

Northward Bound

The main reason several guys go together and spend a lot of time and money to buy, develop and manage a piece of duck hunting property is so they’ll have their own duck hunting place. It’s a yearlong job but a labor of love.

Many things can thwart a promising duck season: weather patterns, migration irregularities, competition from nearby waterfowl habitat. But whether or not the Duck Gods favor you in the fall, the habitat you develop will be valuable to the birds on their long, dangerous journey north in the spring.

This video was shot in Bates County, MO after an early spring thaw. Most of these birds are probably mallards with a sprinkling of pintail, gadwall, widgeon and teal. They are enjoying this little 185 acre parcel of wetland habitat as a resting and feeding stop-over on the way north to their breeding grounds in the prairie pothole regions of the northern United States and Canada.

This little 185 acre parcel of marsh and woodland not only benefits ducks. Canada geese nest here every year. Snipe, herons and other shore birds frequent it year-round. White tail deer, raccoons, possums,  turkeys,  bobcats and countless songbirds make frequent  use of it.

Want to help conserve wetland habitat? Even if you don’t hunt, buy a federal duck stamp.They’re available for $25 every fall from your local post office. And support Ducks Unlimited http://www.ducks.org .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More big Kansas white tails

I’m starting to see why hunters from North Carolina, Vermont, Texas and other states come to Kansas and pay ridiculously high fees for a non-resident deer tag, hoping to bag a big whitetail buck.

My Kansas buddy Scott keeps trail cams scattered over an area about the size of Delaware and keeps providing me with interesting photos. Scott is an antler hunter and, according to him, none of these bucks are “shooters”. Me? I was a meat hunter. My trophy was a nice tender120 pound doe. I do have a couple of magnificent racks  – which Scott would probably call non-shooters – hanging on my studio wall but both were shot in Missouri.

Anyhow…take a look at these “non shooters”. Scott puts out mineral lick blocks during the year and they do attract deer. They lick the blocks right into the ground, then keep licking where the block used to be. I don’t know the name of the chemical in the block but it should be called “Deer crack”.

You can see the buck in the night photo, his nose down in the hole where the mineral lick used to be, still licking away while a doe and another buck wait in line.

Reminds me of the first day Baskin-Robbins introduces a new flavor.