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Phillippe mentioned in a post sitting in the bush watching wildlife around him come alive.

 

I live on a farm with 100 acres with a decent section of bush.  I am considering taking a chair, camera and a keen eye and seeing what I see.  We have a lot of deer around us as well as coyotes, the odd black bear etc.

 

It's a good time of year as the mosquitoes aren't out yet to eat you alive and come June the bush will be full of cattle so that will certainly keep the wildlife at bay.

 

Does it work well? I know there are no guarantees, but if tomorrow is a nice day, I am thinking of having a lone bush party of one.  

 

What time of day would be the best?  With all the farms, although far apart, am I likely to see much to make it worth my effort?

 

Jill

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...

Edited by DDoug

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That is very comprehensive Phillippe.  Now time is always my enemy and I have no blind, nor any camo gear.  As you can tell, wildlife is not my forte. 

 

For what I would take, not worth investing in all the equipment so just have to pack a lunch and see what I see. Probably nothing of course, but I will remember to be in front of a tree, not behind.

 

I doubt I"ll get any worthwhile pics, but it is an excuse to relax out in the sun before the evil mosquitoes and black flies come around.

 

Jill

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My favorite maxim is "you have got to be in it to win it" - and it goes a long way to describing my own view of wildlife photography, for all the days of nothing I go through Mother Nature eventually smiles a big smile for me. And I smile back.

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There are camo pop up blinds like a tent. I have one. It folds down into a circle. No floor, but zip down windows. They can be hot unless you open them up for cross ventilation, then you risk being seen. Great in cool weather, though. I've taken a fold up stool to sit on. Sorry, Philippe, I'd have to call an ambulance after an hour of sitting on the ground.

 

I can't say mine would work for the kind of wildlife Philippe shoots, but when I left mine up for a couple of days, the birds in my yard accepted it and I was able to get close to where they staged before hitting the feeder. I always chose tan or soft green clothing. Earth colors. I do have some camo, too. I mainly did that before affording my long lens.

 

It takes a special person to sit for over an hour trying not to move. Things itch. You need a bathroom break. A drink. Have to fight crawlies off your legs. Boredom reigns. I can't do it more than an hour. Just can't. Tried it at a lake. Sat up my hide before dawn in the weeds. Wish I'd remembered the insect repellent.

If I'd had any action, it would have been worth the two hours I lasted. The kingfisher I wanted noticed the hide.

Betty

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That's a great list of tips Philippe.  Thanks for posting them.  I'm not a wildlife photographer but I enjoy wildlife images and appreciate all the hard work and planning it takes to get quality images of animals in nature.

 

Maria

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Thanks Philippe. However, I think you forgot suitable tweezers or other tick removing tools. You will probably get loads of them :)

Edited by Niels Quist

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Depends a lot if it's a heavily hunted area or not. Watching wildlife in Belgium - where all wildlife is very skittish - can't be compared with watching animals in Yellowstone  ;)

 

Here are some tips and what I do in Europe in hunted areas:

  • Best times are dusk and dawn when deer, foxes and wild boars are seen foraging in the fields (during the day, they rest in the dense cover of the woods). 
  • Before attempting to shoot them, you must first observe the animals from a great distance, figuring out where and when they come out, through which gaps in the undergrowth, where the sun will be in the morning/evening. See if you find a pattern in their behaviour. That can take a few days or even weeks. Behaviour patterns change according to the weather, seasons and work done in the fields like harvesting and mowing grass. A freshly moved meadow will attract foxes 'cause easier to catch rodents.
  • If you're aim is just to observe wildlife without a camera, then you can do with sitting very still in camouflage clothing with your back AGAINST a tree. Do not make the mistake of hiding behind a tree. Remember most animals don't see that well but will notice weird outlines like a head poking out from behind a tree. Besides, you need to adopt the most comfortable position as possible because you shouldn't move for ...... hours. Another trick is to use a raised hide or ladder stand. Animals might approach you very, very closely that way, because large mammals don't expect danger coming from the sky, so they don't look up.
  • But when you want to photograph the wildlife, you need a hide. If its private property, you could place it a few days on beforehand. Hides are not only important to conceal your figure, but also your scent. Important, because you cannot always choose to sit upwind. Choose the smallest hide possible and forget the comfy chair, sit on the ground (I use a tiny, very cheap and very compact children's dome tent which I painted in camouflage colours and fitted with a sleeve to stick my telelens through. Important that your hands are concealed). The expensive hunting blinds are too big in my opinion. It's of great importance that you change the environment as little as possible. 
  • At dusk and dawn, light conditions can be so low, it'll be impossible to get decent pictures of moving animals. When they are very close, make a funny noise and that'll make them stand still completely motionless for a few seconds, trying to figure out where the sound came from. Just enough time to take a couple of shots ...... after which they'll probably flee from hearing the camera's shutter. Yep, often animals come way too close. Not a good thing. Anyway, the best experiences are those when you leave the spot without disturbing the wildlife.
  • When you plan to shoot at dawn, sleep at the spot, the night before. When the animals are out in the open, it'll be impossible to get close to them within shooting range. I used to sleep in a thorn bush in the middle of a field. In the evening, I could shoot the roe deer with the sun in my back. Slept inside the hollow bush and the next morning, I turned around carefully and could start shooting again with the sun - once more - in my back while the deer were still foraging in front of me, totally unaware of my presence  :)
  • Easiest is shooting at dusk. Raise your hide - well on beforehand (couple of hours before dusk sets in) - close to where you see the deer leaving the undergrowth and simply wait for them to appear in front of you.
  • And - almost forgot - choose to hide in a spot with the sun in your back AND a nice setting in front of you. It's not just the animal, but the WHOLE picture that counts  ;)

Hope these tricks will help and ..... GOOD LUCK  ^_^

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

FKMDHK.jpg   BGKTCM.jpg   HER7JW.jpg   D1X1G4.jpg

Do you think I could do that with this camera? It has a 5x optical zoom? https://www.johnlewis.com/sony-cybershot-dsc-w800-compact-camera-hd-720p-20-1mp-5x-optical-zoom-2-7-lcd-screen/p1771116?colour=Black

 

LOL! 

Only joking, great shots and shows the dedication and perseverence you need to be a great photographer and capyure wildlife, great tips!

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Nope, I mean something like this, but flat. Like you would use to screw a piece of cardboard or cloth to a wall. 

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

Ah, it's just called a washer. I now have an image in my mind of a Belgian photographer walking stealthily up to a fence and screwing a mouse to it.

Edited by spacecadet
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That is very comprehensive Phillippe.  Now time is always my enemy and I have no blind, nor any camo gear.  As you can tell, wildlife is not my forte. 

 

For what I would take, not worth investing in all the equipment so just have to pack a lunch and see what I see. Probably nothing of course, but I will remember to be in front of a tree, not behind.

 

I doubt I"ll get any worthwhile pics, but it is an excuse to relax out in the sun before the evil mosquitoes and black flies come around.

 

Jill

 

Another and cheaper solution is a camouflage net. You can wrap yourself into it when sitting against a tree or use it as a screen and hide behind it (look through the small gaps).

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

 

Great idea.  Walmart here doesn't carry them, but Amazon does.  I'll also check out local hunting stores.  Thanks Phililippe!

 

Jill

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That is very comprehensive Phillippe.  Now time is always my enemy and I have no blind, nor any camo gear.  As you can tell, wildlife is not my forte. 

 

For what I would take, not worth investing in all the equipment so just have to pack a lunch and see what I see. Probably nothing of course, but I will remember to be in front of a tree, not behind.

 

I doubt I"ll get any worthwhile pics, but it is an excuse to relax out in the sun before the evil mosquitoes and black flies come around.

 

Jill

I never encountered black flies until I went on an all-women fishing trip to the Boundary waters of Minnesota. We don't have them in Oklahoma.

First off, blood-sucking insects have always considered me strawberry shortcake. My sister will say to this day, that when we were children out playing at dusk, if she didn't want bitten by a mosquito, all she had to do is stay close to me. I drew them all.

 

So when my friend who sat up the trip, and was from Wisconsin, told me about black flies I bought the strongest deet repellent I could find. I wore jeans, thick socks, long sleeves. Had a hat with netting. Applied the repellent, on my skin and my clothing. It held off the black flies for about 10 minutes. Then they wormed through the weave of my socks, bit through my clothing and made me miserable.

 

I was the one sitting around the campfire slapping and scratching and reapplying repellent every 10 minutes while the other 7 women enjoyed a bug-free environment, since the black flies were all happily biting me.

Even so, during the day the trip was successful. We portaged heavy backpacks and canoes past several shallows until at last we were on a lake. From there to our small island. For someone who'd never fished for Muskie or Walleye, I outfished the other women, who had grown up fishing those waters.

Excuse my bragging. ;) fish are attracted to me as much as the bugs are.

I absolutely can't imagine my life if I lived in black fly territory. I would need a blood transfusion on a regular basis.

Betty

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That is very comprehensive Phillippe.  Now time is always my enemy and I have no blind, nor any camo gear.  As you can tell, wildlife is not my forte. 

 

For what I would take, not worth investing in all the equipment so just have to pack a lunch and see what I see. Probably nothing of course, but I will remember to be in front of a tree, not behind.

 

I doubt I"ll get any worthwhile pics, but it is an excuse to relax out in the sun before the evil mosquitoes and black flies come around.

 

Jill

I never encountered black flies until I went on an all-women fishing trip to the Boundary waters of Minnesota. We don't have them in Oklahoma.

First off, blood-sucking insects have always considered me strawberry shortcake. My sister will say to this day, that when we were children out playing at dusk, if she didn't want bitten by a mosquito, all she had to do is stay close to me. I drew them all.

 

So when my friend who sat up the trip, and was from Wisconsin, told me about black flies I bought the strongest deet repellent I could find. I wore jeans, thick socks, long sleeves. Had a hat with netting. Applied the repellent, on my skin and my clothing. It held off the black flies for about 10 minutes. Then they wormed through the weave of my socks, bit through my clothing and made me miserable.

 

I was the one sitting around the campfire slapping and scratching and reapplying repellent every 10 minutes while the other 7 women enjoyed a bug-free environment, since the black flies were all happily biting me.

Even so, during the day the trip was successful. We portaged heavy backpacks and canoes past several shallows until at last we were on a lake. From there to our small island. For someone who'd never fished for Muskie or Walleye, I outfished the other women, who had grown up fishing those waters.

Excuse my bragging. ;) fish are attracted to me as much as the bugs are.

I absolutely can't imagine my life if I lived in black fly territory. I would need a blood transfusion on a regular basis.

Betty

 

 

Black flies love me, mosquitoes not as much.  They are only bad here if you go in the bush. And only for about a month. 

 

One year I got so badly bitten in my head that it swelled and at one point I looked like a Romulan.

 

I was in West Virginia when I was a kid, and the sand flies looooooved me!  Sitting on the beach, everyone else in t-shirts, and I'm wrapped in a blanket hiding next to the fire.  They just ate me alive.

 

Jill

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'Local wildlife' for me usually means closeups - insects. You don't need a hide and I don't think they can smell you, but getting in close and steady enough can be a real challenge and needs practice.

I learned by trial and error in the days of film, where a success rate of 1 in 20 cost a lot a lot of money. Practicing is a lot cheaper these days.

But insects are the most amazing animals and worth the time and effort.

 

I've got images of birds and mammals too, and have never used a hide, but mine aren't in the same league as Philippe's

Edited by Phil Robinson

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You can't compete with a chap who takes his own fences with him. And then nails mice to them.

Edited by spacecadet
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Depends a lot if it's a heavily hunted area or not. Watching wildlife in Belgium - where all wildlife is very skittish - can't be compared with watching animals in Yellowstone  ;)

 

Here are some tips and what I do in Europe in hunted areas:

  • Best times are dusk and dawn when deer, foxes and wild boars are seen foraging in the fields (during the day, they rest in the dense cover of the woods). 
  • Before attempting to shoot them, you must first observe the animals from a great distance, figuring out where and when they come out, through which gaps in the undergrowth, where the sun will be in the morning/evening. See if you find a pattern in their behaviour. That can take a few days or even weeks. Behaviour patterns change according to the weather, seasons and work done in the fields like harvesting and mowing grass. A freshly moved meadow will attract foxes 'cause easier to catch rodents.
  • If you're aim is just to observe wildlife without a camera, then you can do with sitting very still in camouflage clothing with your back AGAINST a tree. Do not make the mistake of hiding behind a tree. Remember most animals don't see that well but will notice weird outlines like a head poking out from behind a tree. Besides, you need to adopt the most comfortable position as possible because you shouldn't move for ...... hours. Another trick is to use a raised hide or ladder stand. Animals might approach you very, very closely that way, because large mammals don't expect danger coming from the sky, so they don't look up.
  • But when you want to photograph the wildlife, you need a hide. If its private property, you could place it a few days on beforehand. Hides are not only important to conceal your figure, but also your scent. Important, because you cannot always choose to sit upwind. Choose the smallest hide possible and forget the comfy chair, sit on the ground (I use a tiny, very cheap and very compact children's dome tent which I painted in camouflage colours and fitted with a sleeve to stick my telelens through. Important that your hands are concealed). The expensive hunting blinds are too big in my opinion. It's of great importance that you change the environment as little as possible. 
  • At dusk and dawn, light conditions can be so low, it'll be impossible to get decent pictures of moving animals. When they are very close, make a funny noise and that'll make them stand still completely motionless for a few seconds, trying to figure out where the sound came from. Just enough time to take a couple of shots ...... after which they'll probably flee from hearing the camera's shutter. Yep, often animals come way too close. Not a good thing. Anyway, the best experiences are those when you leave the spot without disturbing the wildlife.
  • When you plan to shoot at dawn, sleep at the spot, the night before. When the animals are out in the open, it'll be impossible to get close to them within shooting range. I used to sleep in a thorn bush in the middle of a field. In the evening, I could shoot the roe deer with the sun in my back. Slept inside the hollow bush and the next morning, I turned around carefully and could start shooting again with the sun - once more - in my back while the deer were still foraging in front of me, totally unaware of my presence  :)
  • Easiest is shooting at dusk. Raise your hide - well on beforehand (couple of hours before dusk sets in) - close to where you see the deer leaving the undergrowth and simply wait for them to appear in front of you.
  • And - almost forgot - choose to hide in a spot with the sun in your back AND a nice setting in front of you. It's not just the animal, but the WHOLE picture that counts  ;)

Hope these tricks will help and ..... GOOD LUCK  ^_^

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

FKMDHK.jpg   BGKTCM.jpg   HER7JW.jpg   D1X1G4.jpg

 

 

Wow. Very in-depth and informative. Thank you!! I just learned a lot about something I've always wanted to try. Now I think I will. :-)

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For bird photo's I use a cheap pop-up hunting blind/hide with a folding camp stool positioned close enough to our bird feeders to get closeups with a 100-400mm zoom.

 

For deer - the local whitetail deer herd is plentiful to the point of being a nuisance in our neighborhoods.  You can get within photo range without a blind/hide before they decide to move on.

 

As for setting on the ground for long periods waiting on critters - not here in Texas unless you want fire ants in your pants or perhaps a rattlesnake in your pocket  ;-)

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That is very comprehensive Phillippe.  Now time is always my enemy and I have no blind, nor any camo gear.  As you can tell, wildlife is not my forte. 

 

For what I would take, not worth investing in all the equipment so just have to pack a lunch and see what I see. Probably nothing of course, but I will remember to be in front of a tree, not behind.

 

I doubt I"ll get any worthwhile pics, but it is an excuse to relax out in the sun before the evil mosquitoes and black flies come around.

 

Jill

 

I never encountered black flies until I went on an all-women fishing trip to the Boundary waters of Minnesota. We don't have them in Oklahoma.

First off, blood-sucking insects have always considered me strawberry shortcake. My sister will say to this day, that when we were children out playing at dusk, if she didn't want bitten by a mosquito, all she had to do is stay close to me. I drew them all.

So when my friend who sat up the trip, and was from Wisconsin, told me about black flies I bought the strongest deet repellent I could find. I wore jeans, thick socks, long sleeves. Had a hat with netting. Applied the repellent, on my skin and my clothing. It held off the black flies for about 10 minutes. Then they wormed through the weave of my socks, bit through my clothing and made me miserable.

I was the one sitting around the campfire slapping and scratching and reapplying repellent every 10 minutes while the other 7 women enjoyed a bug-free environment, since the black flies were all happily biting me.

Even so, during the day the trip was successful. We portaged heavy backpacks and canoes past several shallows until at last we were on a lake. From there to our small island. For someone who'd never fished for Muskie or Walleye, I outfished the other women, who had grown up fishing those waters.

Excuse my bragging. ;) fish are attracted to me as much as the bugs are.

I absolutely can't imagine my life if I lived in black fly territory. I would need a blood transfusion on a regular basis.

Betty

 

Black flies love me, mosquitoes not as much.  They are only bad here if you go in the bush. And only for about a month. 

 

One year I got so badly bitten in my head that it swelled and at one point I looked like a Romulan.

 

I was in West Virginia when I was a kid, and the sand flies looooooved me!  Sitting on the beach, everyone else in t-shirts, and I'm wrapped in a blanket hiding next to the fire.  They just ate me alive.

 

Jill

Don't get me started about sand fleas. Like when the dog and cat carried them inside and infested the house. When I was hospitalized with acute asthma, the nurse gasped when she saw the red scars on my legs. Sand fleas love legs from the knee down. Their jumping range, I guess, and all those nice accessible blood veins. Thank heaven the scars faded.

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As for setting on the ground for long periods waiting on critters - not here in Texas unless you want fire ants in your pants or perhaps a rattlesnake in your pocket  ;-)

 

As a wildlife photographer, this thread started a conversation between my wife and I last night. I'll often just lay silently at the edge of a field etc to try and get the shot I have in mind and all I have to worry about is Ticks. Can't imagine laying still if there's  a chance of a bear or rattlesnake stumbling upon me.

 

There's some good advice here. I would add that if in a throw over (bag) hide you do need to ensure any movements are slow so as not to draw attention. It's actually more forgiving when it's windy!

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Shots taken in a Toronto city park about 7 Kilometers from my city home. City animals are used to human presence and will allow a closer approach. No need for a hide, just walking along trail with camera preset 200mm ISO400 F5.6 auto exposure by shutter speed. 

 
Watch out for ticks, they can carry very serious disease and are active anytime above freezing. I found one on my back AFTER it had finished feeding. Saved tick for identification and underwent blood testing. Was lucky this time. They like to get under your clothing against your skin. First defense is to tuck pants into socks, and use DEET repellant around possible entry points. No exposed flesh even in summer.
 
white-tailed-deer-odocoileus-virginianus
beaver-castor-canadensis-in-bluffers-par

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For bird photo's I use a cheap pop-up hunting blind/hide with a folding camp stool positioned close enough to our bird feeders to get closeups with a 100-400mm zoom.

 

For deer - the local whitetail deer herd is plentiful to the point of being a nuisance in our neighborhoods.  You can get within photo range without a blind/hide before they decide to move on.

 

As for setting on the ground for long periods waiting on critters - not here in Texas unless you want fire ants in your pants or perhaps a rattlesnake in your pocket  ;-)

Lol, Phil. Not so much fire ants in Oklahoma (there are some) but my nephew encountered a rattlesnake at the oil well he was servicing yesterday. The most deadly one.

A couple of years ago I was in Louisiana on a shoot with a friend. I was so excited to see my first spoonbill bird. Jumped out the of the car and started shooting. It took me 5 minutes before I realized I was standing smack dab on an anthill.

My friend enjoyed watching me dance. A couple of hundred had worked their way up my legs.

Not fire ants, thank heavens.

Betty

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Jill, if it's mainly about a wildlife watching experience, here's what you also can do.

 

Forests are bristling with exciting animals ........ at night. Go in a forest alone (two is already a crowd when watching wildlife) on a full moon armed with just a torch (preferably fitted with a red light filter). Find a nice spot where you can sit comfortably, turn out the light........ and listen. Amazing what sounds you hear and how much better your senses work compared to daytime. If you hear noise like rustling leaves closeby, turn on your torch and investigate. You may expect everything from large beetles, different species of mice, shrews, hedgehogs, salamanders, frogs, ..... Look a few meters ahead for little shiny "diamonds". Those are the reflecting eyes of spiders. You hear an owl, suck the back of your hand so you produce a high pitch tone like a little rodent screaming. That noise carries far and is easily picked up by the perfect hearing of owls. When you hear the owl again ...... it'll be much closer this time. Now, pick a stick and gently rustle the dead leaves on the ground. With a little luck, you see the owl's silhouette soaring silently overhead and landing in a tree nearby to investigate. I always do this trick when lying in my sleeping bag while bivouacking. Works every time  :)

Amazing how quickly "scary" sounds arouse curiosity instead of fear  ^_^

 

OK, the above is what I do in European forests where the most feared animal is the ....... 2 mm large tick. No cougars nor grizzlies in my neck of the woods. So, it's up to you if it's safe to practice. 

A little warning: best not watch "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" the day before  ;)

 

Happy exploring,

Philippe

 

FF04EX.jpg   FF05AT.jpg   BEK61T.jpg   

 

CBXFN5.jpg   BEK5W6.jpg   BEMFPR.jpg

 

 

No grizzlies, but black bears.  They do tend to avoid humans when possible.

 

For the bush on my property, I have a limited short time before the cattle are out (1st of June) and it won't be long before the mosquitoes are unbearable in the bush. They have already started to show themselves, mostly due to a very wet spring, so lots of still water around.

 

But I will work towards the fall when the mozzies are gone.  Cattle will still be around, but during the day in the fall they tend to be up by the barns, and go down to the bush at night.  We have a cow pond down there so I am sure lots of deer go there to drink.

 

It's on my list and I do intend to get one of those camo capes.

 

Jill

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ooooh, all this talk of mosquitoes, blackfies, biting ants etc, is setting off a serious itch just sitting upstairs in front of my computer on a cold April morning. I remember paddling canoes as a lad on the Rideau lakes with Loons playing hide and seek with great fondness. But I don't miss the many things which would bite and sting to try and ruin my day.

 

Rural Suffolk has hardly any of those beasties. And Philippe, I once settled down for the night in my campervan en route to the Zeebrugge ferry. Lots of mosquitoes emerging from your many drainage ditches.

 

I do get visits from deer, badgers, foxes and hedgehogs, but we don't really do bears in the UK. We used to have lots of things in the little river Box but we now have an otter so he/she's pretty well scoffed the lot. A feral peacock visits the barn roof sometimes and swallows nest in the barn. They just arrived back from Africa last week. The Swifts should return in a couple of weeks. We hear them before we see them.

 

 

edit: and Deer-fly! I lived in terror of Deer-fly in Eastern Ontario when up in the bush hunting blueberries on top of granite outcrops. we treasured the blueberries but there was a price,

Edited by Robert M Estall

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About bears...that Boundary waters fishing trip had one. He had a name given by the locals. He regularly swam from island to island.

He didn't visit our island while I was there, but we had to hoist all of our food by rope, dangling from a tree limb every evening. Even packs of chewing gum.

I don't much care for bears. If this one had shown up, any image would have been ruined by camera shake. ;)

Betty

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Do rats, mice and pigeons count as local wildlife? Someone said they spotted a coyote in Central Park a few years ago, but it was never confirmed. There are those who suspect it was a frog. 

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