An Intruder

After Thursday’s hike, I intended to return to the river area and continue my search for Emma deer while taking in the changing fall colors, but Friday and Saturday turned out to be good days to do a little work in the pecan orchard. Sunshine brought warming temperatures just right for working outdoors, and a light breeze meant we could burn debris from the woods. FD and I noticed the slough was dry on one end so we now had opportunity to cross to that area and begin work on the east side of the orchard. There were plenty of trees and limbs down on the east side, so FD would be running the chainsaw while I gathered wood. But first, we had another problem – the cocklebur plants that I had not been able to eradicate on that side of the slough this summer were now full-grown and dried. Thankfully, they were fairly easy to spot, but there were a lot of them. So Friday I worked at gathering and burning wood, and Saturday FD and I pulled and burned cocklebur plants.

Drier conditions have allowed us to cross the very north end of the slough. I will be concentrating on cleanup in that area over the winter months.
FD and I pulled a utility trailer to the east end of the slough and loaded it with dried cockleburs. In their dried state, I am sure many fell from the stalks as we pulled them, but hopefully next year we won’t have near the problem with them!
FD walks the east side of the pecan orchard, pulling dried cocklebur plants.

Work did not last all day on Saturday, since FD is dedicated to watching OU football. He quit work by 2:00 and came in to shower before the 3:00 game.  I decided to gather and burn one load of wood and then disconnect my trailer and run down to the west end of the property to see if I saw any local deer. We had spotted the doe with her late season triplets several times in the last week. Despite being anxious about gathering and getting a load of wood burned so that I could go west, I found myself enjoying the pretty day, working at a leisurely pace. I did not hurry with my work, knowing cooking a meal awaited me back at the house, and that was my least favorite thing to do.

The sun was already low in the sky by the time I unhitched the trailer. I stopped by the house to collect my camera and binoculars. I always regretted it if I did not at least have the camera’s zoom, but the binoculars allowed me even better vision, and I hoped to scan the soybean field to the west in case I might see some wildlife.

I did not see anything interesting as I traveled in the electric buggy to the west end. I was as quiet as I could be, moving at a slow crawl through the woodlands but, every so often, I would drive under a pecan tree and the ping, pong, boing noises of bursting pecans under the tires, probably alerted any living being in the area anyway. Putting this aside, I parked the buggy along the west fence line and grabbed the binoculars as I walked to the north trying to find an open spot where I could get a better view towards the river.

Before I found a prime location, irritation got the best of me. Over the years, someone had discarded lots of old tires in this area. They were all different sizes, some were very old and weathered, and many were partially buried in the soil. I knew someday we would get those tires picked up and hauled off. There was also a ravine a short distance away, where the previous owner had discarded all sorts of junk material. That would likely have to be buried. I wasn’t sure we could afford to have all of that hauled off. And of course we would have to keep up with trees growing in the fences. It was a big job eradicating young trees on the immediate ten acres where the house sits and adding another fifty-two-and-a-half acres of fence to maintain overwhelmed me. But as I looked over this west boundary fence, I realized the trees were already out of control.

Completely wound up in my thoughts about the work ahead, my peripheral vision caught a small fleck of something orange moving in the distant soybean field. It was a hunter! He was in full camouflage wearing a blaze orange cap, walking to the north carrying some kind of bow and seemed to be talking on a cell phone. I lost sight of him as he rounded the peninsula that juts out from the area I refer to as “the island”. Since it was late in the day, I assumed he was getting set up to hunt that evening. While the entire area from the edge of town to the river is zoned agricultural, it is also within the city limits. As such, one cannot hunt legally in this area.  I texted FD, and then I texted the game warden. I had already contacted the game warden earlier in the week when I had heard shots west of our home. Soon I received a text back from the warden, asking for more information.

I spotted the hunter walking along the tree line of the “island” area across the soybean field. He was headed to the “peninsula” on the right of the tree line.

There was no time for photos, since I was too far from the buggy, where I had left my camera. By the time I reached the buggy the man had disappeared into the trees. I was angry, yet I knew that emotion served no good purpose. I had done all I could do for the moment.  And, weather permitting, I knew I would be doing some more investigating the very next day…

© 2017 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


31 thoughts on “An Intruder

    1. I have always been protective of wildlife here, and there is nothing worse than a poacher to me. I am quite thankful to have a good working relationship with the county game wardens, via wildlife rehabilitation. I am sure they appreciate a proactive community to help stop illegal hunting. We only have two wardens in our county and it is a big job to keep up with poachers this time of year.

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        1. I agree. I just get word out when opportunity arises. I think the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation puts on informative presentations at schools and puts on all sorts of outdoor programs for kids.

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    1. Hmm, I might have to ask Santa for a pair of those, though I have no idea how much a good quality pair would cost. My wish list is pretty much about one item, or rather eight – new batteries for the electric buggy. At a little over $200 a battery, I’m pretty sure I’ve tanked my chances of a boss pair of binocs. My current pair are Swift Sport Optics Audubon 828HHS 8.5×44 Binoculars, which I’ve used mostly for birding.

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  1. I hope this is “to be continued”! We have renters in the property next to ours, and every time new ones move in they have to be educated on the fact that they cannot shoot “our” deer that have become tame because they are within the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. I understand your anger… I’ll bet your heart was pounding when you saw him. Another question… could you do a controlled burn to burn off the cockleburs?

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    1. Yes, there will be more posts! I completely understand about educating others about the deer, and our work with rehabilitation. Living on the outskirts of town, we continually need to be proactive.

      As for a controlled burn, it is not possible as pecan trees (and any nut bearing tree) are very susceptible to damage or perishing in fire. The previous owner of the orchard gathered and piled small stacks of wood throughout the orchard and burned them, and a few were too close to the trees and killed them. We have a lot of work ahead of us to bring those trees down. It’s a mammoth job. We have conferred with the local conservation service,agricultural extension office, and a state biologist, and none of them recommends controlled burning. Chemical treatment is not a consideration for us, so hand pulling is our best option.

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  2. Yikes, Lori! I would have been scared to death! I’m glad you can call the game warden at least. Do I need to make you a Crazy Chicken Lady hat in brilliant hunter’s orange to keep you warm and SAFE in hunting season when the weather turns cold? 😯

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    1. Ha ha! What a great idea – I would be the ONLY person with a unique hat like that! I have a blaze orange vest and headband, so I’m covered. I don’t have anything to fear, really. I’m keeping an eye out with my binocs, and the game warden is aware of the problem. Both the land owner and the lessee know the property is in city limits and hunting is not allowed. I cannot be out there every day, but I do make runs in the buggy early in the morning and towards evening. I’m doing what I can.

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    1. We had a lot of pecans this year, but lost the crop due to weevils and scab this year. Most people I’ve talked to in the area had the same problem with their pecan trees. Just a bad year I guess. If I have pecans, you bet I make pecan pie!

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  3. Interesting story and insights into your outdoor activities. One thought/question on your brush management. I generate a lot of brush when working on firewood, release cutting and pruning wild apple trees, trail clearing, etc. In most cases, cleanup involves building brush piles as winter cover for cottontails. Is this an option for you guys?

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    1. Yes it is an option, Nick. I have been building loose brush piles for several years in the woods located in the bottom land behind our home. There is an area of willows where we stack brush also. As for the main pecan orchard, we don’t, simply because it adds another obstacle to mow around and if we ever have a pecan crop to harvest, the entire orchard needs to be clean for the equipment to move about collecting pecans. But certainly, the entire west end (near the river channel) is prime for making such types of shelter and cover. When we had the state biologist out last autumn to help identify plants and trees, he pointed out that we were making our brush piles too “tight” for wildlife. So I’ve made a practice of keeping them loose!

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    1. I plan to do a little snooping around, but during the week mostly. Most of my surveillance will be from our property, and even then, I’m well hidden in weeds and trees. I’m just thankful to have a good relationship with our county game wardens. It’s good to have authority on my side!

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  4. The game wardens don’t get nearly the credit they deserve. It’s “let’s see if we can get one from the road” season down here, and they’re being kept pretty busy. It’s amusing to read the weekly field notes they publish. You’d think people would know better, but they don’t. My favorite arrest on the page I linked is the first one: at least you didn’t find someone hunting in the nude.

    Have you ever tried the burlap bag routine for collecting cockleburs? Once they begin to harden up, you can do a pretty good job of cleaning an area by dragging the bags over them. Weighting the bottom of the bag with a few rocks makes them even more efficient. Sometimes the feed stores here have bags they’ve emptied and are willing to sell for next to nothing. Pulling the plants while they’re young is better, but if an area gets away from you, at least getting most of the seeds collected helps.

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    1. That burlap bag routine is a great idea! While the grasses are tall in most of that area, it would still be a great idea to drag the burlap over the spot where a plant was pulled and give it a going over. I know many dropped off the plants as I picked them, but it was just too much work to hand pick them up out of the grasses. A quick swipe with a burlap bag would have picked up most of the fallen burs.

      Those field notes are interesting. I will have to check and see if Oklahoma’s Dept. of Wildlife Conservation puts out similar reports. Most of those violations were not very well thought out. That first arrest listed was my favorite too. If one wants to hunt in the nude, I would think it best to attempt that in a remote area and not along the highway! Thanks for that link… it’s one I’ll be following!

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  5. I’m soooo slow reading this Lori, but am hoping this means I won’t have to wait as long for the next instalment! Do take care. I don’t trust anyone who is greedy enough to poach to practice good safety habits, so you might need to double down on that. Thank you for the photo of the cockleburs. I now know what it was that hitched a ride on my shoe last year when we were in the US. I had never seen such big burrs, and boy are they nasty! xxx

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    1. I will have a couple of posts to publish soon – you’ll understand that the Universe kept me safe. I have been off the computer for a while too. I have read your recent post but haven’t had time to respond. I’m so happy to see you are writing again.

      I always felt bad for the cattle that the previous owner kept on the orchard grasses. Their ruff of hair on top of the head was often matted thickly with cockleburs. I am not sure they could be brushed out, but rather cut out – if anyone cared to. Of course this is the clever way cockleburs are transported from place to place – hiking a ride on animals and humans. I’ve pulled them from Ronnie and Emma’s coats. I see them down at the river bottom some, and there are even worse burs out there. Buffalo burs and grass burs have a sharper spike to them. They make cockleburs seem soft and fuzzy! 😀

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  6. (Catching up – next month maybe I’ll be back to normal and not toddler herding)
    Poachers always irritate the heck out of me. We used to chase them off our farm – which was only 62 acres, but we didn’t until on it and there was a lovely spring with a ravine and plenty of brush for animals to hide in.
    Worse were the ones who ran their dogs at night and chased deer out into the road where hunters were driving without lights. Oh, that’s certainly right and honorable.
    Not enough game wardens!

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    1. I agree on the lack of game wardens. We only have two in this county, but I understand most Oklahoma counties have only one. I suppose there will always be poachers, but I will always do my part to protect the deer in this area.

      I am so far behind on reading other’s blog posts. My, I’m not used to toddler herding… sounds like a real rodeo!

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